Return to Learn Update July 31

Months of work have come to this point in which I get the honor of sharing the plans that represent countless hours that our teams have put into our Return To Learn (RTL) plans. While we do not have every scenario and question answered, we do believe we are in a strong position to start our school year in-person AND online. In the plans we have worked hard to provide information that is helpful in providing enough detail to understand how we are thinking about starting the school year in each of our three models without getting so granular that they become unwieldy. Each of the plans can be found here:

Return to Learn Onsite

Return to Learn Hybrid (meaning we are starting with students online and in-person)

Return to Learn Online 

The Return to Learn plans will be presented to the Board on Monday, August 3 at a Special Board meeting. We are planning to recommend to the Board that we begin the school year in our hybrid model and we will stay in that model until data and information dictate we make a change.


You should have received your email to verify your student(s) plan for fall with regards to Return to Learn and transportation/bussing. Please make sure you verify your selection by August 5.

We have been asked about ratios in-person and online. Who will be teaching online? It will be Waukee teachers certified/licensed by the state of Iowa. The ratios will be determined by age level, enrollment, and staffing. However, we hope to have similar ratios online to what we have in the past in-person.


In the Governor’s press conference yesterday we were provided information on the connection between transmission rates and implementation of the various RTL plans. Many have asked if there is a chance that we will begin the school year completely online. For context, yesterday the positivity rate for Dallas County was 6.28%. As noted in the chart below, we would have to be at 15% positivity and anticipated 10% student absenteeism to even be considered for a start under that model. As we have noted previously, we have been working closely with staff members at Dallas County Public Health over the last several months and that will continue as we move forward. My understanding is that the daily transmission rates in a county are based on a 14-day rolling average. According to the guidance, counties with rates of:

  • 0%-5% positivity is considered none to minimal and are on-site or hybrid
  • 6%-14% positivity is minimal to moderate and are on-site or hybrid
  • 15%-20% positivity and 10% absenteeism of students who are in person are substantial controlled and are hybrid or potential for a school or district closure for up to 14 days
  • >20% positivity school or district closure for up to 14 days

The Iowa Department of Education shared yesterday guidance for schools to follow when a positive COVID test is confirmed in a school building. The district will work with local health officials to determine the appropriate next steps and more specific information will be coming for our staff and families as to how students will continue in their learning.


We have been receiving questions about homeschooling over the course of the last few weeks,  especially as it relates to continuous online learning. It is important to keep in mind that the continuous online learning model is designed as being schooled at home. In that model your child/ren will be taught by staff members from our school district, using content aligned to our academic and other standards, on devices provided by the school district. In addition, the high school credit they earn counts toward their Waukee High School diploma. If you are choosing to homeschool, those services are not provided, and high school credits do not count towards the WHS diploma. There is also an option for dual enrollment in that mix, however, we feel our hybrid model is a flexible solution that precludes the need to be dual enrolled.

If you have any questions about which of these models may be the best fit for your family, please reach out to either of our Associate Superintendents Brady Fleming or  Terry Hurlburt.


Questions have emerged related to the various student services we provide and how those services will be applied in a continuous learning model. The Return to Learn plans are available online and serve as a resource to describe how we are planning to approach the delivery of these services.

That said, because these services are individualized by their design, we have had the best success answering questions in individual conversations with families, guided by specific examples for their children. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to these individuals:

Special Education or 504 Plans – Peg Erke 

English Learners and Extended Learning Program – Stacie DeHaan


As we think about the significant number of changes that will be occurring to start the school year, we plan to put a proposed, revised calendar in front of the Board on Monday night, August 3rd. The proposed changes will be to have Monday, August 24th as a staff only day as well as Friday, August 28th.

Certified staff are receiving professional learning to start the year on Canvas (a Learning Management System), the use of devices in a 1:1 learning environment, mitigation strategy training, and more. By having Monday with no students, we are providing an additional day of preparation for staff members to start the school year. The concept of Friday without students is to have school for a few days and then a day to reflect and make adjustments before we begin what will then be the first full week. It is worth keeping in mind that it is unlikely we will have a snow day this year. If we do have inclement weather, we can count the day of school by temporarily transitioning to our continuous learning model. Thank you in advance for your support of this important improvement to our start to the school year.


This year, to ensure an added level of safety for our nutrition staff, we will not be accepting cash in our cafeterias. We will however accept cash/check at the district office or school building offices for those families and students who don’t have access to the internet or online banking.  What this means is you must have an account in RevTrak to deposit money to purchase meals or a la carte items within our buildings.  To ensure an added level of safety for our students, our SchoolCafe app will be used to access menus and for touchless transactions at the secondary buildings. An account needs to be set up by the secondary students who have smartphones to access a barcode to be scanned when checking out in the cafeteria line.  Pin pads will still be available for those without smartphone access.  The elementary cafeteria point of sale will be touchless for all students.


We will host another community town hall from 6-7:30 p.m. on August 4. Please fill out this form if you have a question that is not already answered in the FAQ. 

August 4, 6-7:30 p.m.

Webinar ID: 961 7456 5708

Thank you again for being supportive of our district and teams working so hard for our students, staff, and community.