SCHOOL CLOSURE EXTENDED...STUDENTS SCHEDULED TO RESUME CLASSES ON TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2020...The Underwood Community School District has joined other school districts in Iowa and is extending its closure time period. Underwood will remain closed through Monday, April 13, 2020. Classes are scheduled to resume on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
The Underwood Community School District will remain closed until at least March 27, 2020. This decision was made after careful consideration with area superintendents, the Pottawattamie County Emergency Response Team, public health officials, and the local Pottawattamie County COVID-19 Response Task Force.
While one case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Pottawattamie County, there are no known cases in the Underwood Community School District. There is not yet evidence of community spread in our county. We acknowledge there is much uncertainty about COVID-19 and we are making decisions with the most up-to-date information available.
Our school leadership team met regarding closing the school, and we continue to stay informed with Pottawattamie County Public Health. We will meet toward the end of our closure to lift or extend the closure of the school district. We are asking parents to be prepared for a potential school closure for a longer period of time, if warranted.
The top priority of the Underwood Community School District has always been and remains the safety, health, and well-being of the children who are entrusted to our care. With our partners, we will continually monitor and assess the risk of exposure to this rapidly evolving crisis.
We understand that Nebraska schools have canceled classes due to recent or upcoming extended spring breaks. However, as you know, we do not have an extended period of school vacation until April 10-13. We are monitoring our situation daily and will extend the closure period if needed.
Working in collaboration with local and state health officials, the Underwood Community School District will continue to be diligent in considering what action steps to take to safeguard students and staff. As the situation evolves, be assured that any decision to modify decisions will include timely communication with parents and guardians.
Please know that latch-key program will close as the Underwood Community School District is closed for the purposes of preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While this will be a challenge for many families, we are dedicated to supporting the public health efforts and keeping children safe and healthy in our community.
While school is closed, we are taking several steps now to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
We are asking students to take home all essential school items that they will need to stay educationally engaged in all of their classes. This will include Chromebooks for students in grades 5-12, content books or workbooks, work packets, calculators, and any personal items they have at school that they will need during this closure. If your student takes medication at school and you will now need this medication for the home we ask that you contact the secretary or nurse in your child's respective building and let them know that you will need the medication for your child sent home.
For students that do not have internet access, we ask that you contact the school as soon as possible so we may set up educational options to meet your student's needs during this closure. Our special education families will receive information from their child's special education teachers with guidance and opportunities to meet their special education needs during the school closure.
We will be canceling or postponing all scheduled activities, practices, open gyms, weight room usage and use of facilities (individually or as a group) starting March 16th after school until further notice. This will also include any public use of the school facilities and weight room during the closure. We will allow in-season high school coaches to have quick meetings after school on March 16, 2020, to meet with their teams to discuss the closure and the impact on their practice schedules. The health and safety of our students, staff, and families are most important during this difficult decision.
Limited Building Access for Visitors and Volunteers:
Beginning Monday, March 16th, only school district personnel, students, and key student service providers will be allowed in our school buildings. The school district will not be allowing volunteers, mentors, and visitors to enter school facilities. Parents will have restricted building access in line with the normal pick-up and drop-off routines.
Beginning Monday, March 16th, school facilities will no longer be available for community use. Any non-district event scheduled to be hosted on school grounds will be canceled or moved. Please contact the hosting organization for updates on any non-District or non-school events.
Please look for information from your child’s school principal regarding planned parent-teacher Conferences.
Beginning the evening of March 16th, large/non-essential school events that include parents and others will be canceled or postponed until a later date
Restrictions on Student and Staff Travel:
To avoid the potential of travel-related exposure to the virus, beginning the week of March 16th there will be no school-related travel outside the school district by staff members until further notice. Many state and national student events are being canceled. School field trips will be suspended until further notice.
Additional hand sanitizing stations are available at schools.
The Underwood Schools have reviewed our cleaning and disinfecting guidelines for schools and busses to help prevent the spread of viruses. Our custodial staff has been concentrating on high touch areas, such as doorknobs, water fountains, and handrails, as well as posting reminders about hand washing.
The school district has also increased our inventory of cleaning and safety supplies so that we have what is necessary now and into the coming days and weeks.
Student Illness Guidance:
If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, please do not come to school. Please call the county health hotline at 712-890-5638 or 712-890-5369 from 8 am - 4 pm, Monday through Friday. The United Way hotline can be reached 24/7 by dialing 211. These health professionals will provide guidance.
Not sure if you or your children are at risk? Answer these three easy questions by, visiting CHI Health website and take the Coronavirus questionnaire
1 Have you recently traveled to an area with known local spread of COVID-19?
2. Have you come into close contact (within 6 feet) with someone who has a laboratory confirmed COVID – 19 diagnosis in the past 14 days?
3. Do you have a fever (greater than 100.4 F or 38.0 C) OR symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing?
While we work to protect the health and safety of our students, it's also important to consider ways we can continue to serve students' academic needs in current closure. We have a team of school district leaders focusing on how we can deliver appropriate lessons and reduce the potential of learning loss. We're committed to doing what is best for students. As information develops regarding plans for potential school closure, we will send out additional information.
We will continue to communicate regularly with families throughout the closure, using the School Messenger email system.
Thank you for the role you will play in helping our children during this uncertain time. By working together, we can continue to provide a stable and safe learning environment throughout the Underwood Schools.
P.S. Everyone plays a vital role in helping to prevent the spread of viruses. These steps may sound simple, but, according to the public health experts, they are tried-and-true measures for all of us to take:
Cover your mouth with your upper arm or a tissue when coughing or sneezing
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Get plenty of rest
Drink plenty of water
Thank for your attention to this serious matter. We will keep you informed regarding additional developments.
Edward H. Hawks
Superintendent of Schools
Underwood Community School District