South Hardin will most likely push the start of school back one week due to Monday's storm and a delay in receiving cleaning equipment needed for the school buildings.
Superintendent Dr. Adam Zellmer released a statement on Tuesday explaining that the start of school will be pushed back from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31. He said the reason for the decision was damage caused by Monday's storm and subsequent power outages on Monday.
"Due to the damage done by the derecho wind storm, still awaiting specific guidance from the state on certain aspects of schooling, and still waiting for some of the PPE we ordered months ago, we have made the tough decision to delay the start date of school to Monday August 31st," the statement reads.
The change to the school calendar must be approved by the Eldora-New Providence and Hubbard-Radcliffe school boards before it can be official, but Zellmer said that he has spoken with board members and they have "agreed on the school starting dates and early school year plan verbally already." The E-NP board approved the calendar change Wednesday and the H-R board is scheduled to meet next Monday (Aug. 17).
The four days will be made up by shifting professional development days from later in the year to the school week being postponed (Aug. 24-28). The approved calendar still calls for May 28 to be last day of school.
According to the statement, certified staff will still report for professional development on Aug. 19 and 20, and they should plan to for more professional development days on Aug. 26 and 27. All support staff should plan to report on Aug. 19 and Sept. 2, dates that were part of the original schedule.
The plan to spend the first two weeks of school rotating students in attendance based on the first letter of their surname will be reduced to the week before Labor Day only. The new schedule for the first week of school is:
- Aug. 31 - Students with last names beginning with A-L
- Sept. 1 - Students with last names beginning with M-Z
- Sept. 2 - Professional development day. No school for students.
- Sept. 3 - Students with last names beginning with A-L
- Sept. 4 - Students with last names beginning with M-Z
Zellmer said the storm impacted the start date because employees lost out on a day and a half of work in their offices, and online registration was impossible due to the power and internet outages.
"Technology is great but when everything that you work on is web-based and electricity-based now, it's hard to get much work done," he said. "It was a tight timeline to begin with and this storm just pushed us over the edge."
Zellmer confirmed that they have enough face masks and face shields for at least the first 30 days of school, but the ionized sprayers the district plans to use to clean rooms and buses have not arrived even though they were ordered in April. The desk shields are expected to arrive sometime within the next week.
"Some stuff we would normally order by the pallet load we are only being given a box or two of at a time for our normal distributors," Zellmer said. "Then you call other distributors and they can't guarantee the delivery of the things they are trying to sell you."
Zellmer said he knows other districts are waiting on supplies as well.
"For us it was just the perfect storm of situations that all added up to us feeling like we needed this additional week to be prepared," he said.
Zellmer also confirmed that while some guidance from the state has been released regarding special education, the system is housed in storm-ravaged Cedar Rapids and he has not received guidance regarding transportation, food service or large gatherings (sporting events, concerts). He said middle school sports will still begin on Aug. 24.