Update to Distance Learning Letter to All Ruby Van Meter Parents, Guardians and Caregivers

Ruby Van Meter School

Cynthia Weisz, Principal♦Jennifer Brindle-Rothman, Associate Principal♦Laurel Friedman, Associate Principal

Ruby Van Meter Students, Families, and Caregivers:

Given the announcement from Governor Reynolds on 4.2.2020, recommending that schools stay closed through the end of April we wanted to reach out to our students, families, and caregivers to provide an update on what distance learning could look like for our students. With the complexities of distance learning and the learning challenges our students have, we are faced with a unique task in a very new future. Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tom Ahart (full transcript is provided below) also issued a statement sharing his intention that in-person classes would not resume during the 2019-20 school year. While this decision has not been finalized, we feel we need to continue to plan for distance learning through the end of the school year.

Know that your student’s learning is a priority and we are committed to communicating with you to identify needs and supports you may need through this time. We are working with our teachers in identifying new ways of learning through Microsoft teams, recorded videos, student packets, recorded audios, and visuals. While this is not the ideal situation, we are creatively thinking of ways to engage your learner and support learning at home. There are still many questions that need answers through this uncharted time and we are working diligently to get those out in the coming weeks. We plan on providing weekly updates to share new information.

What you can plan for:

1. Your student’s homeroom teacher will be setting up a time this week, 4.6.20, to go over some survey questions. Please plan on 15-20 minutes for this discussion. If it is easier to complete the survey over email, that will work as well.

2. A packet of information will be provided in the week of 4.20.20. This will contain information on distance learning and what this might look like for your learner. We will have some optional activities around reading and math along with helpful tips to support your student’s behavior and communication growth.

3. If you student has an upcoming IEP meeting, your student’s teacher will be contacting you to arrange this meeting in a virtually or on the phone.

At this time, your student’s learning is optional and voluntary. With this extended closure, we wanted to provide your student the opportunity to practice and review lessons on skills that have already been taught. These lessons will be focused on his/her current essential elements in a way that we hope, is user friendly for the adults and caregivers that will be supporting your learner at home. We understand this is a new challenge in a time of uncertainty and we are here to support in a way that keeps everyone safe.

Along with the learning needs of our students, the health and safety of our students is a top priority. We will continue to provide updates on the COVID-19 and information that support your learner socially and emotionally. Social distancing and isolation is a new experience for many of us and finding healthy ways to cope is important. We are asking our teachers to reach out on a frequent basis to check in and send a hello. Our staff greatly miss all the students and are saddened by these decisions but understand for the safety and health it is the right decision. We hope everyone is well and healthy.

Ruby Van Meter Administration,

Cindy Weisz, Jennifer Brindle-Rothman, Laurel Friedman 710 28th Street Des Moines, Iowa 50312 515-242-8220 Fax: 515-242-8223


Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools

In a virtual meeting today of the Des Moines School Board, Superintendent Thomas Ahart shared his intention that in-person classes would not resume during the 2019-20 school year, and that distance learning would be implemented. Following this afternoon’s announcement by Governor Reynolds that recommends schools remain closed through the end of April, Dr. Ahart issued the following statement:

“On any given school day, 40,000 people students, teachers, staff, parents and volunteers pass through the doors of public schools in Des Moines. That is a significant number in our city. I believe that re-opening our school doors before the COVID-19 pandemic may have even reached its peak in Polk County is not in the best interest of the health and well-being of this community.

“Earlier this week I directed our leadership team at DMPS to accelerate work on a plan to transition to distance learning for the remainder of this school year. That work includes addressing issues such as equity and accessibility, to make sure all students are able to participate in a meaningful way, one that advances their learning while mitigating the risk to public health. In addition, over the past several days, many of our teachers have already been working on best practices for online education and how their classes can be temporarily taught from afar. I intend to have this plan ready early next week.

“As Superintendent, I do not believe it is fair for our students, staff and families to be expected to operate in short increments of time with little certainty. Additionally, unless we make a wholesale commitment to very heavy lift required to connect and equip 33,000 students, many of whom do not have home access to the internet or a personal computer, we will not be able to meaningfully serve our students. Let’s make a plan to finish this school year, which is unlike any year we have ever experienced, in a way that is safe for our community AND serves the academic needs of our students. When it comes to the health and safety of students, K-12 public schools should expect no less than Iowa’s public universities; hundreds and thousands of people gathering in schools near the height of this pandemic does not serve that purpose.”

Thomas M. Ahart


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