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Western Dubuque Community School District
Address: 310 4th St. SW, PO Box 68 | Farley, IA 52046
Phone: (563) 744-3885
Fax: (563) 744-3093
staff email
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Return to Learn & COVID-19 Updates
Ongoing updates will continue to be posted in this section of our district website.

General Questions
Rick Colpitts, Superintendent
General Education Questions
Kelly Simon, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
Special Education Questions
Vicky Coyle, Director of Special Education

The most recent update is below, followed by previous updates.
January 12, 2022

Good Afternoon:

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance that reduces the isolation period for someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

The Dubuque County Health Department, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the CDC are all in alignment regarding this guidance.  Beginning Thursday, January 13th, our district will begin following this new isolation guidance. The guidance allows individuals to return to school after 5 days as follows:
January 4, 2022

Good afternoon:

The CDC recently came out with some new guidelines on isolation and quarantine timelines. They also updated their recommendations for isolation and quarantine for K-12 schools.

We are currently reviewing the new CDC guidance and working with state and county health departments to determine what changes we need to make to our current practices regarding self-isolation and quarantine. We don't want to make changes to our procedures too soon and then have to change them again due to new information coming out at the state or county level since the guidance is sometimes conflicting.
November 23, 2021

Good Afternoon:

We wanted to let you know that there will be three more COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics being held in our district in the coming weeks. These clinics are not sponsored by the school district; we are simply allowing outside healthcare providers to use our facilities to host the clinics outside of the regular school day.
November 19, 2021

Good Afternoon:

On Tuesday, November 16th, the school board passed the following policy:

Effective Monday, November 22, 2021, the WDCCSD will utilize the district's COVID-19 dashboard data to determine if a temporary mask mandate should be put into effect for all employees, students, parents and visitors of a school where that building's positivity rate is 3% or higher and is expected to remain at or above that level for two or more days.  
November 19, 2021

Good Afternoon:

We wanted to let you know that there will be two COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics being held in our district in the coming weeks. These clinics are not sponsored by the school district; we are simply allowing outside healthcare providers to use our facilities to host the clinics outside of the regular school day. There will be more clinics scheduled but the details have not been finalized yet.

August 16, 2021

Good Afternoon:

As we prepare to return to school later this month, there are several things we want to bring to your attention related to what school will be like this year. The guidance being put out by the CDC, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Dubuque County Health Department has not been consistent. We recommend that you read all of the guidance and recommendations from these agencies to make the most informed decision you can regarding personal mitigation efforts for your child(ren).
May 15, 2021

Good Evening:

On Friday afternoon, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced some changes to the quarantining process for schools and childcare professionals. The letter they sent stated the following:

"We are currently revising our COVID-19 guidance for school and childcare settings, including quarantine guidance, to recommend that while COVID-19 positive and symptomatic children should be excluded, exposed children should no longer be required to stay home, regardless of mask usage. Moreover, when there is a positive case, parents should be given information around exposure to COVID-19 in order to make their own informed decisions regarding risk."

Based on these new guidelines, masks will now be optional for students and staff in our school district. This will go into effect Monday, May 17, 2021.

May 6, 2021

Good Morning:
Since the beginning of the school year, our district has required all students and staff to wear a masks or face covering while at school. Since we started the school year attending face-to-face and we weren’t able to consistently socially distance most of the school day, wearing a mask was what we could do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which was in the guidance we received from the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).
April 15, 2021

Good Evening:

As you know, we had four (4) snow days this year. In addition to the two (2) snow make up dates noted in the school calendar, we added several additional student attendance days to the school calendar this year, due to the pandemic. In an average year, we also have over 50 additional student contact hours built into the school year, above the state required 1080 hours. Based on the additional student attendance days this year, as well as the additional student contact hours, we are going to adjust the last student attendance day. The students’ last school day will be Friday, June 4th. We will dismiss two hours early that day. If you have any questions about this calendar change, please let me know.

Thank you.  

Rick Colpitts, Superintendent
Western Dubuque Community School District
March 4, 2021

Good Morning:

As you know, we are dismissing 2 hours early every Friday to allow our staff time to accommodate for educating students who are on quarantine due to COVID-19. The early dismissal schedule does present us with a potential problem if we ever need to run a 2-hour delay, due to weather, on a Friday.
February 2, 2021

Here is a quick update on the plan to move forward with holding school face-to-face five days a week:

  • We will resume five-day-a-week school the week of February 15th.  
  • February 19th will be the first Friday that students will attend school.
  • Every Friday will be a 2-hour early dismissal for students.
January 29, 2021

Good Afternoon:

A bill mandating that all districts offer five-day-a-week school was given to the governor to sign on Thursday, January 28th. Now that the governor has signed this bill, we will be required to have school five days a week beginning no sooner than the week of February 15th. We have been working on a plan for returning to school five days a week. Below is our plan for returning to school five days a week, regardless of the date this mandate begins.
December 7, 2020

Good Afternoon:
The CDC has come out with some new guidance regarding the length of time for quarantining after an exposure to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. There are two changes that may impact the date a student can return to school after an exposure to the virus.
November 23, 2020

Good Afternoon:

You may have noticed that some school districts have opted to move to virtual learning for several days after the Thanksgiving holiday break. We continue to use data to discuss what is best for our schools, and we continue to believe that as long as we have the staff to remain open, we will continue to educate our kids face-to-face. As we stated in the message we sent out a couple weeks ago, we will consider closing down a grade level or a building based on the spread of the virus. We will also have to consider closing down a building or the entire district if we are unable to staff the buildings at a safe level for our students and staff or we don’t have enough drivers to transport our students to school. So, at this point, we plan to return to school as planned on Monday, November 30th.
November 11, 2020
COVID-19 Potential Move to Remote Learning Information
With the high positivity rate in Dubuque County, as well as across the state, there have been several school districts that have moved, or will be moving to a remote learning model. With both small and large districts moving away from face-to-face instruction, we believe we need to share our thoughts with all of you on when and why our school district would move to remote learning for all students.

November 9, 2020
Good Evening:

The first trimester is winding down and we are gearing up for the second trimester. Unfortunately, the COVID virus numbers in Dubuque County are still very high. Therefore, we will continue to follow the same weekly schedule for the second trimester of the school year, which begins on Monday, November 23rd. We will hold school face-to-face every Monday through Thursday, and students will learn at home on Friday. Our teachers will continue to use Friday as a day to connect with virtual learners as well as to plan and prepare lessons to be placed in our learning management system. We will re-evaluate our weekly schedule in the middle of February to determine our plans for the third trimester.

Take care of yourself and your family.
Rick Colpitts, Superintendent

November 5, 2020
Good Morning:

We were informed yesterday that the CDC has changed its position regarding gaiters. The attached guidance from the CDC indicates that wearing a gaiter that has two layers, or one that has one layer but is folded to make two layers, is now an acceptable form of face covering.
October 8, 2020

Family Message:

On Tuesday, September 29th, the governor and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), made some changes to their guidance regarding quarantining individuals who were in close contact with an individual who tested positive to COVID-19. The guidance (see attachment) stated that "quarantine is no longer recommended if a potential exposure occurs while both the infectious individual and the close contact are wearing face coverings consistently and correctly." This new guidance only applied to exposures that happened in our schools. Exposures in the home would still require individuals to quarantine for 14 days. Based on the change in guidance, we sent a message out to our students and staff which allowed many of them to return to school prior to the 14 day quarantine period.
September 29, 2020
Good Afternoon:
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) released new guidelines regarding when individuals should be quarantined due to exposure to a positive case of COVID-19. According to the information shared earlier today, if an individual is exposed to a person who tests positive for the virus, in a business, education, or child care setting, and both the infected individual and the close contact were wearing face coverings consistently and correctly, quarantine is no longer being recommended by IDPH. They further stated that individuals who have close contact due to exposure to a household member are still required to quarantine at least 14 days. The new guidance is attached below this update.
September 23, 2020

Good Afternoon:

As many of you may be aware, the Dubuque County 14 Day Positivity Rate for COVID-19 is approaching 15%. This average positivity rate is one of three variables that must be used in determining whether a school district can apply to move from face-to-face learning, to virtual learning, for up to 14 days. The other two factors include an absentee rate of over 10% and a recommendation from the county health department to move to remote learning.
August 18, 2020

Good Afternoon:  
Homecoming football games are scheduled to be played on September 18th at Cascade High School and September 25th at Western Dubuque High School. Unfortunately, with the continued high positivity rates in our county we are cancelling all of the traditional activities that happen during homecoming week. We will not hold the powder puff game, the community pep assembly, the parade, or the homecoming dance this year. I know this news is disappointing to so many people, but the decision to cancel these activities is based solely on the safety of our students, staff, and communities. If things improve later in the year, we might be able to hold some of these activities in the spring of the school year. The administrators will be working with their student leaders to come up with possible options.  
Thank you and take care of yourself and your family.  

Rick Colpitts, Superintendent
Western Dubuque Community School District
August 13, 2020
Important Parent Notification – important procedures as students return to school

  • DAILY: Families are required to pre-screen your child(ren) for illness prior to sending to school daily. Please take your child(ren)’s temperature to ensure it is below 100.4 (without the use of fever reducing medications) before sending your child(ren) to school. Students should not attend school until fever-free for 24 hours.
In accordance with CDC guidelines, contact a healthcare provider immediately if your child has: have a fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
August 10, 2020
At the August 10 Board Meeting, the recommended revised school calendar was approved with a school start date of August 24 for students K-12 and August 25 for Preschool students.
August 5, 2020
Recommendation to move the school start date back to Monday, August 24th.
On Thursday, July 30, Governor Reynolds announced the state’s “Return to Learn: Reopening Iowa’s Schools Safely and Responsibly Plan.” The plan outlined the steps districts should take to move from full on-site learning, to hybrid, to temporary continuous/remote learning. This plan relies heavily on county health officials to perform contact tracing and communicate with parents if/when there is a positive COVID-19 case in our school system.   
July 21, 2020
Good Afternoon:

For families planning on choosing the virtual option for the fall, the Official Virtual Learning Registration can be found on our district website. If you select this option, your child(ren) will be placed in our distance learning system for the entire first trimester which runs from August 13th through November 19th.  After completing both this virtual learning registration form, as well as the yearly District registration process, an administrator or district employee will be in contact with you on the next steps in this virtual option.  Please note: The Official Virtual Learning Registration form is due by Friday, July 31st.  
July 17, 2020
Good Afternoon:
Two very important updates to our continued plans for our return to school August 13th:  
(1) Face coverings
(2) In-person school Monday-Thursday only

July 6, 2020
As we indicated in last week’s communication, we are asking each family to complete a survey about their plans for their child’s return to school for the 2020-2021 school year. The link to the survey is below. The survey questions are based on our ability to fully reopen our schools for face-to-face learning. The Return to Learn Plan we sent out last week included the details of what your kids can expect school to look like and what we will to do make our facilities and buses COVID-19-aware, rather than COVID-19-free. 
July 1, 2020
Good Afternoon:
After almost two months of work and planning, we are ready to share our Return to Learn Plan with our families. This update contains the links to three documents that have information about our plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year. The first document is the “Return to Learn Handbook 2020” (https://tinyurl.com/R2Lhandbook1) and it is the full, 26-page, Return to Learn Plan. This file contains all components of our plan including academics, technology, social emotional learning, health and safety, and equity.  

June 26, 2020
Good Afternoon:
For the past eight weeks, the District has been working on our Return to Learn Plan which is due to the Iowa Department of Education by Wednesday, July 1st. In addition to the District Leadership Team which will finalize the plan, there have been five separate subcommittees working hard to determine what school will look like next year. The subcommittee areas include: Academics, Technology, Social Emotional Learning, Equity, and Health and Safety. Each of these groups have been meeting weekly to determine how to safely educate our students next year in a face to face setting, or a distance format. This has been challenging work, but I believe our final plan will be solid and effective.

June 12, 2020
Good Afternoon:

Graduation - We are planning to hold graduation at CHS and WDHS in June. With the current restrictions in place due to COVID-19, we have had to make some changes to the date and time that the ceremony will be held at each school. Here are the plans:
June 3, 2020
Parents and Families,

I know most of your recently completed a technology survey for our school district. Now, the State of Iowa would like to gather similar information from you about technology access for your household. This information will help in planning for next school year, should learning from home need to occur because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our district encourages you to complete this survey, so your technology barriers are known to the State.  

May 29, 2020
Good Afternoon:

We have several things to share with you today. First of all, we have a new proposed school calendar for the 20-21 school year (a copy of the regular calendar and the preschool calendar have been attached to this message). Our first scheduled day of class is Thursday, August 13th and the last day is Wednesday, June 2nd. We have added 11 more student attendance days to this year’s calendar. This extra time will be used to help us recover the essential concepts our students missed during the extended school closure this year. Although this calendar has not been officially approved by the school board, we believe it will be approved by them at their next meeting on June 8th. Having a calendar set for next year is a big step in our district’s work to complete our Return to Learn Plan. 
May 6, 2020
Good Morning:

As our district continues to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, we want to make sure we have a solid plan for distance learning in case we have another extended school closure next year. In order to solidify our planning process, we need your help. We are asking all families to complete a technology survey to help us determine the technology gap that currently exists in our school system.
May 1, 2020
Good Afternoon:

I hope you are all doing well and staying safe and healthy. Here are a few updates we wanted to make sure you were all aware of this week. 

First of all, I wanted to remind you that each building will be working with families/students to arrange a time for picking up all personal items at school. This will happen sometime during the week of May 11th through the 15th. Someone from your child’s school will be reaching out to you to schedule a time to get these personal belongings. We will make sure we are practicing proper social distancing and following all protocols regarding COVID-19 throughout this process.  
April 24, 2020
Good Afternoon:
We wanted to reach out to all our families to provide you with a few updates regarding school. Although we don’t have answers to all of the questions we have been getting, we do have some information to share.
First of all, our teachers are continuing to develop new lessons and provide additional optional activities for students. There are several new math options on The Hub and other subject areas will be out in the coming week. Hopefully your child’s grade level/course level teachers are reaching out to you to share updates and information during this time period.
April 17, 2020
Families of the Western Dubuque School District:

On Friday, April 17th, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that all Iowa public schools will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.  

First of all, please take time to explain to your children how devastated we are as a school system to not be given the chance to appropriately end our year with them. We are grieving this news and sending our love, support, and condolences to you as you explain this in your homes. It’s okay to be sad and feel the disappointment of this, and we are here if you need us. This also gives us the opportunity to remind our students that we are being asked to make the personal sacrifices of not being together as a school system, not being with our friends, and not going back to our regular schedules in order to save lives and hopefully end the severity of the situation soon. The emotional well-being of all our families continues to come first for us; we are in this together. 
April 8, 2020
Good Morning:

Yesterday, the governor expanded the list of facilities that are to be closed. The list now includes all playgrounds. The reason for this closure is that the virus can live for many days on playground equipment, which can contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
April 6, 2020
Good Morning WDCSD Parents and Guardians,

Continued communication and connection is important to all of us. With that said, we also do not want to place any extra stress on families that have circumstances at home of higher importance than hearing from us at this time. If this email is coming at a time where hearing from school is not a priority, please don't worry about the continued information we provide, and we will continue to keep you in our thoughts of taking care of yourselves first.
April 2, 2020
Good Afternoon:
Governor Kim Reynolds made a recommendation at her press conference today, that all schools remain closed through April 30th. Our District intends to follow her recommendation which means our potential return date has moved from Monday, April 13th to Friday, May 1st.
March 27, 2020
As we finish up week two of our school closure, I wanted to reach out to our families with some important information. Currently, schools across the state are scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 13. Our current school calendar does not allow for us to start school that day because April 13th is a day of spring break, and April 14th is a teacher professional learning day. That means students would not return to school until April 15th and that does not make sense to me. So, I will be recommending a change to our school calendar which will make April 13 and 14 student attendance days.
March 23, 2020
Parents of WDCSD:
As a district, please be reminded we are not leaving you in a lurch when it comes to the education of your child. The direction we are taking is to continue to provide you with an ever-growing list of choices, suggestions, and resources via The Hub (District home page > look under the slide show > click the orange HUB button). 
March 20, 2020
We know the Federal Guidelines that require us to only serve our lunches out of communities that meet those requirements causes hardship on families who do not live in those communities. By working with multiple partnerships outside of the school district, we have been able to secure more locations for bagged lunches.
March 18, 2020
It’s day three of our four-week school closure and we continue to receive many questions from parents and students each day. We are doing our best to get you the answers to these questions, but some of them simply can’t be answered at this time. We will continue monitoring this situation and share all pertinent information with our families in a timely manner.
March 17, 2020
As we continue to move through this new challenge, there are a few questions that have come up multiple times. Since these are frequently asked questions, we felt we should share this information with everyone.
March 16, 2020
Families of Western Dubuque Community School District:

As we navigate these uncharted waters together, there are so many questions that are unanswered. With very little new information from our governing institutions, we appreciate your patience with us as we continue planning what is best for our district. We understand the closure of schools puts many of you in hardship, and we ask for your understanding and ability to give grace to make sure our decisions are supported from the larger system we adhere to.
March 15, 2020

The Governor recently announced that she is recommending a four week closure of all schools in Iowa. We will follow her recommendation. Effective Monday, March 16, Western Dubuque Schools will be closed until further notice.
March 13, 2020
Dear Families:

The district wanted to provide the community with an update regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and our district's plan in dealing with this pandemic. The safety of our students, staff, and community is our top priority and all decisions that are made are based on this goal.
March 10, 2020
Dear Families:

As you know, there has been increasing attention and media coverage regarding the coronavirus (specifically the COVID-19 strain of the virus). This new strain of coronavirus is believed to spread mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

As a district, we are operating in a state of preparedness and are in regular communication with the Iowa Department of Public Health, as well as Dubuque County Health Department to be sure we are informed on the latest developments.
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