The Anamosa Community School District will now welcome students back Aug. 31, delaying the start of the school year by six days.
Superintendent Larry Hunt broached the idea of possibly delaying the start of the school year at the Aug. 17 board meeting due to the lingering impacts of the Aug. 10 derecho storm that ripped through Jones County and the surrounding area.
“I think it’s worthy to have a conversation about,” Hunt said.
While the district office had internet, they did not have phone service. At the school buildings, there was no internet connection. With new teachers set to come in tomorrow and other teachers set to arrive Thursday ahead of a first day of school Aug. 25, district officials and staff expressed concerns over whether they had enough time and the tools to get ready.
Internet was supposed to be back up at the building by Wednesday, Aug. 19. Hunt said many schools around the Grant Wood Area Education Agency were pushing back the start of their year, though most are doing so because of actual damage to their buildings.
Aside from the issues at the buildings, some staff, whether they lived in rural areas or Cedar Rapids or Marion, were still without power or internet.
The storm was obviously unexpected and while Hunt said he believed staff would have been ready to go on time under normal circumstances, the storm had really thrown a wrench into the system.
“I know our staff would have stepped up to the plate, but they haven’t been able to do anything,” he said.
When asked what his opinion was, Hunt suggested pushing the arrival of students back to Aug. 27, but said he had not had a chance to talk with the administrative team about the issue.
School board members expressed their desire, especially given the stresses of the upcoming school year, to make sure teachers had the time and tools they needed to get things done.
“Because it’s so different this year already, I think we need to set ourselves up to succeed and not to fail,” Board Member Katie Gombert said.
Board Member Matt McQuillen said that in his discussion with staff, he’d heard zero concerns about COVID-19 but six staff express concerns about being able to get ready in time. He proposed pushing things at least a week
There are also a fair amount of students that have not been registered, about 22%.
Particularly with the flexibility given to schools with snow days to do things virtually this year, pushing back a couple of days would not result in issues with the amount of student hours.
The move to delay passed unanimously.