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Ithaca Planning for Covid outbreak
Julie Prouty
Sunday, March 15, 2020

Ithaca Public Schools’ mission is to ensure the highest levels of learning in a positive, safe, community-rich environment while building on strengths, encouraging accountability, and helping all learners fulfill their potential.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Greetings - 

We know there are lots of questions and this is new territory for us too! But together we’ll make it work. A few months from now, people will wonder if we overreacted by closing school and severely limiting contact between everyone. However, a few months from now if we hadn’t limited contact and the outcome of the COVID-19 is catastrophic, we can’t go back and say, “We should have limited our contact with one another.” In our line of work, with so many children exposed to each other and then going home to interact with family members, many who may be elderly, it is always better to be safe.

The next few weeks will be different to say the least. We will have “normal” school hours Monday- Tuesday, March 16-17.  There may be practice on these evenings.

The Ithaca school team is promising you this:

  1. We are not going to overwhelm children and families with activities the week of March 30th-April 3rd. There are a lot of things kids can do to continue learning on their own time. We are respectful that families have a lot happening right now during this period of social distancing. Teachers will be instructed in this, too, if they deliver assignments via email, online or print material. 

  1. We’re going to get through this. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If we have learned anything from history, it’s in how we react as a group and work together in our group dynamic that predicts the most favorable outcome in the future. While none of this is perfect, history has taught us that when there are pandemics (think the Spanish Influenza of 1918 or even the Plague) under-reacting was catastrophic, as in both examples above.

  1. If you need anything, please ask. We plan to begin meal services for breakfast and lunch on Monday, March 30, and we have so many staff members that want to help kids who either are quarantined or families that cannot get out to get food.  It’s not a burden - we have staff and community members who want to help. These details have not been determined, but currently, we plan to deliver to several places in the district using our buses.  

  1. Staff is discussing home-based learning as an option for students.  We will be working on this for the next weeks so that, if we are advised to stay closed for longer, our students are able to maintain their learning. 

We put this FAQ together to keep a list of all the questions and the latest guidance that we are using in making decisions. It will be updated as needed. 

TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT COVID-19 AND SCHOOL CLOSURE

The following resource is a good place for parents to start the conversation, if they haven’t already, with their children about COVID-19 facts and why schools need to close and social distancing is important at this time.

SCHOOL CLOSURE AND BUILDING ACCESS

When is school closed?

School will be closed to students from Wednesday, March 18 through Sunday, April 5th at least. As we approach April 5th, we will reassess and determine if we are closed longer. We have put this on our news channels and will update it to remind individuals periodically that we are closed. 

Can students and employees still access the school?

Yes, the guidance recommends that we limit gatherings to under 25 people. Students are asked to only access it for specific reasons (see below). Some staff will report during this time for various responsibilities. (see below)

There was a meeting scheduled at the school that falls now during the closure - is it still on?

All meetings scheduled after 6:00 pm on Tuesday, March 17th are canceled and will be rescheduled as needed. 

SCHOOL MEALS

School Meals

If you need breakfast and/or lunch for any or all of your children, regardless of your “free lunch status” or even if you have paid for them in the past, we are offering them free during the closure, including over spring break.

The Week of March 23-March 27

This week was the scheduled student and staff Spring Break. Only administrators, custodial and select staff assisting with the various school closure assignments will report.  We ask that you remain out of the building this week. Fobs will be turned off during this time.

ATHLETICS

Spring Season Start Date

The start of the spring high school athletic season is delayed until at least April 6th. Additional instructions will be sent to students from their coaches and athletic director.

Practices

Because buildings are closed and because the spring season is delayed, there will be no practices.

Sincerely, 

Julie R. Prouty

Ithaca School District Superintendent

julie.prouty@ithaca.k12.wi.us

608-585-2512  Ext 407