BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A Fort Madison school official is concerned about the enrollment of kindergarten students for the upcoming school year.
Fort Madison Community School District’s Director of Student Services and Curriculum Director, Kim Harmon said the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on kindergarten round-ups and screenings.
“I wish I could give you a better picture,” Harmon told the board of Directors at Monday’s board meeting. “But at this point we are a little unsure.
Harmon said the district had good numbers signed up for the district’s round-ups, but are seeing a slow return of the registration packets.
She said the pandemic is creating some problems for families to get dental and medical screenings done, but she said the district at this point is just looking for confirmation the students will be attending.
“Lincoln had 55 registered at Kindergarten Round Up and Richardson at 68 and those numbers gave us a pretty good projection of class size for next fall, but once the closure occurred, we had to send out registration packets to families that would have received them at round up,” she said.
Harmon said only 40 packet have been returned for Lincoln, and just 33 have been returned from Richardson, which is less that 50% of those signed up for the roundup.
Building secretaries have been reaching out to families in the district to make contact and find out what support the families need in getting the packets turned back in.
“We understand there may be some concerns about getting to the dentist or doctor, but right now we just need confirmation that they are planning on attending,” Harmon said.
She said the district is planning on bringing the families in in early August to get through the screenings and finalize plans.
Board member Brad Menke questioned the districts plan for preschool with several area preschools closing due to the pandemic.
“We had a preschool close in West Point and we’re trying to find a spot, But it’s few and far between and maybe the best choice won’t be made because of the late screenings,” Menke said.
Harmon said the district can’t plan too far ahead without further guidance from the state.
“We don’t even have a guarantee in the fall we’re going to be enrolling kids as we normally do,” Harmon said.
“Wish I had good answers. It’s just one of those situations that we can’t plan for and its very frustrating for us as it has to be for families. But we’re going to get through this together, We will make the best decision we can for our kiddos.”
Board member Dianne Hope said it’s hard to plan because not even the state knows what restarting looks like.
Harmon said plans for the state’s Return to Learn program mandate a continuous learning plan in case students can’t come back in August. She said requirements of that plan, which has to be submitted to the state by July 1, also include an onsite learning program to accommodate health and safety measures for students and staff, and a hybrid program incorporating both.
She said the district has set up a leadership team of 24 people, that are being broken down into five subgroups to help formulate the Return to Learn plan for the state.