(641) 637-4187 2163 135th Street, New Sharon, IA 50207

This plan was put together in collaboration with the NM Leadership Team and Administration. Please note this plan is subject to change depending on guidance from the Department of Education. This plan will go into effect in the event of a school closure. Flexibility and positivity will be key as we navigate this upcoming school year. Please be sure to let us know if you have any questions.

North Mahaska’s Community School District’s Return to Learn Plan 

 This plan will be operational in the event of a school closure due to COVID-19.  

The current plan for the fall is to be back in school face-to-face starting on August 26, 2020.  Please note the health and safety portion of the Return to Learn plan is in a separate document on the district’s website.  (This plan is subject to change pending new guidance from the Department of Education, Center for Disease Control, and/or the Department of Public Health.) 

Define Teacher and Student Expectations

PK-12 Plan

What is your plan for delivering the curriculum?
  • North Mahaska CSD plans to return to school in the fall and continue in a face-to-face setting with our published school calendar. If at any time, we were not able to be in school due to a school closure from COVID-19, we would continue with a required learning plan where teachers would provide on-line instruction and students would be required to attend. Attendance would be taken and grades would be given.
  • During a 2-3 day closure teachers will have the option to review or present new instructional material.
  • During a 4 day or more closure, teachers will present new instructional material to progress through the standards.
  • During a school closure, Teachers will ensure essential learning will continue as teachers follow the curriculum to meet standards and graduation requirements.
  • During a school closure, Teachers may provide a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous learning

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff

What is your plan for assessment and feedback of student work, including those that are not participating?

How often do teachers need to assess and provide feedback for student tasks?

In the event of a school closure and on-line learning:  

    • Teachers will continue to assess and provide feedback to students through Google classroom as the curriculum prescribes
    • Teachers will hold weekly office hours to support student learning and offer feedback 
    • Teachers will attempt to contact those who are not participating via phone calls and emails

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff

How will teachers be collaborating with other teachers?
  • How/how often will collaborative teams meet?  
    • Collaborative teams will meet virtually or in-person each week
  • How will administration and coaches contact and support teachers?
    • via email and weekly staff meetings

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff

How/how often will teachers be communicating with students and parents in the event of a school closure and on-line learning?
  • A daily connection will be required (e.g., short announcement/email or video),
    • Teachers will connect with students through Google classroom daily.
  • Expectations for feedback or outreach to individual students
    • Teachers will hold office hours to support student learning and offer feedback. 
    • Teachers will attempt to contact those who are not participating via phone calls and emails.
  • Expectations for students to communicate or participate in-class activities,
    • students will be expected to participate and complete assigned work
    • grades will be assigned during the school closure
    • teachers will take attendance 
  • Expectations around “office hours,” or when teachers will be available to students for live chat or video conferencing,
    • Teachers will hold office hours to support student learning and offer feedback weekly
  • The legal and ethical aspects of student-teacher communication (see
    4. Ensure Professional Development/Teacher Competency), and
  • Home visits by school personnel will not happen during a closure for COVID-19 unless otherwise authorized by the administration

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff

How will teachers be providing chunks of learning opportunities?
  • There may be a combination of teacher-generated (e.g. video lessons), and teacher curated content from web resources.  Teachers should be interacting with students via Google classroom and also providing students with instruction and assignments that will be evaluated. 
  • Essential learning will continue as teachers follow the curriculum to meet standards and graduation requirements.

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff

How will you manage the tight/loose expectations for staff?
  • Teachers will have some flexibility in day-to-day decisions.
    • Tight: At a minimum, teachers will have every other day contact with students but will be available daily, check and respond to emails daily,  weekly collaboration, weekly office hours, SDI minutes will continue
    • Loose: Teachers will have the flexibility to group like classes together for instruction, vary instruction time, coteach, Specials and elective classes may meet weekly
  • Student flexibility in their learning, and where expectations are set by teachers
    • Reduced hours for instruction
    • flexible due dates/time for assignment completion

*Note that typically online learning relies on higher student agency over learning than face-to-face learning does.

Responsibility: NM Administration

How will teachers and school staff handle behavior concerns like inappropriate behavior online (review school policy on appropriate tech use)?
  • What policies are needed for appropriate technology use.
    • This will require an acceptable use policy signed by parents and student
  • If there are consequences for behavioral concerns, are there accommodations to be applied that don’t take away a student’s access to learning?
    • Teachers will provide permissible sites to the IT staff for the district internet filtering.

Responsibility: April, Chris

How will you promote well-being in an online environment?
  • PE teachers will provide weekly videos/activities  
  • Teachers will continue Social Emotional Learning lessons
  • Teachers will limit screen time by providing online instruction followed by offline activities

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff, LE, Dimetri

Identify Your Delivery Platforms

In the event of a school closure due to COVID-19, What platform for learning will you be using for on-line learning and will it vary by building?
  • Class Meetings via Google Meets for all grade levels
  • How your student information system will interact with your learning platform, and
    • Powerschool will continue to be used for attendance and grading while Google Classroom will be used for instruction.
  • Paper distribution may be considered in some circumstances instead of online as a possible platform.
    • Google Classroom will be used during school closures.
      • Mixture of synchronous and asynchronous learning. 
      • Paper packets may be used for students without access to technology

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff, ITS (April and Chris)

What district curriculum will need to be licensed or transferred online?
  • Teachers and administration will ensure that programs required for graduation (CPR ) are completed early in the year in case of school closure. 
  • No additional license to consider at this time. 
  • Wonders and EDM are both available online to students.

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff, ITS, Admin

What district safety measures need to be developed for the increase in online learning?
  • 1:1 devices will go home in grades 7-12, We will use a check out system for elementary according to need
  • If the district firewall will be an issue,
    • Work with ITS to problem-solve
  • Internet filtering, and
    • There were no identified problems with Google classroom during recent closure
    • iBoss filtering for off-site 
  • How devices will be retrieved and maintained.
    • Check-out system for students without devices at home.

Responsibility: ITS (April and Chris)

What additional technology needs to be supported?
  • Technology for video recording and virtual conferencing (e.g., Zoom, Google Hangouts)
    • Consider purchasing iPads/Document Cameras for teachers to use at home during the delivery of on-line instruction. 
    • Google Classroom, Google Meet

Responsibility: ITS, Kate

What accommodations or modifications will be provided for those without reliable internet access?
  • Using paper materials, offline activities, tele-teaching, and
    • Students can take home textbooks, notebooks, etc.
  • Reaching out to local internet and cellular providers for additional access opportunities 
    • Reach out to local US Cellular, local businesses, etc. to purchase internet/hotspots for those without access.

Responsibility: NM Teaching Staff, Admin and NM PACT (with outside resources)

Communicate with Internal and External Stakeholders

What initial communication do families need?


  • Surveying families about their readiness for online learning in the natural language of the parent,
    • The state asked schools to engage parents in a technology survey from June 3 to June 24.  The survey was posted on the district website and email/text communication was sent out through the district SwiftAlert.  The school district  had teachers communicate with parents in their classrooms/advisory classes to ensure all parents have taken the survey and all requested data has been gathered.
    • How do we get this information as well? The school will be able to access the results of the state survey.  We will use the results for our return to learn planning and preparation for the upcoming school year.  
    • Consider families who need a survey in their natural language. 
  • If there is a school closure and we transition to on-line learning, all families will need to be informed regarding how courses will operate, and how students and families will be supported, and
    • Google Classroom will be utilized as the online learning platform.  Teachers will teach lessons through Google Classroom.  This can be synchronous or asynchronous.  (Elementary classrooms may use SeeSaw in addition to Google Classroom.) 
    • Families will be informed prior to the beginning of the school year through district communication.  The communication will be ongoing to ensure clarity and provide parents with an opportunity to ask questions as they arise.  
    • Families will be supported by the classroom teacher through daily check-ins through Google Classroom, phone, or email.  
    • Teachers should start the year with Google Classroom (using Google Classroom as a format for engaging students and parents.
    • All students will need an email. 
  • Creating a frequently-asked-questions page for families and community members (including how-to guides and tutorials).
    • The district will create a FAQ for families and community members that will be posted on the district’s webpage.  Content may include:  
      • How-to ideas for accessing Google Classroom
      • Who to contact with questions related to technology
      • Supports for online learners
      • Tips for parents for supporting on-line learning
      • Links to the DE’s COVID-19 Support Documents
What information or decision-making does your board need?
  • Be familiar with the overall plan of implementation of Return to Learn
  • Know how and when teachers will be delivering instruction through Google Classroom. This can be synchronous or asynchronous.
  • FAQ for parents and students
  • Revisit the communication policy – how to direct questions
  • Be informed with the latest DE and IDPH guidance – ongoing

Responsibility: NM Admin

Who should parents contact with issues or concerns?

Follow the communication policy – district communication flow chart

Responsibility: Admin, Classroom Teachers, Central Office Staff, School Board

What are acceptable ways for students to contact teachers?
  • Email or Google Classroom
  • Parent meetings via online or phone

Responsibility: Classroom Teacher

What ongoing communication will be sent out from the building or district level?

The communication will be ongoing to ensure clarity and provide parents with an opportunity to ask questions as they arise.  Changes to the schedule or format of learning will be communicated throughout the year as we the need arises for in school and out of school learning.  Parents and students will need frequent reminders about the process as things change. Communication should be simple and easy to read. 

Responsibility: Admin, Classroom Teacher

What key messages do you want staff to reinforce?
  • The importance of empathy and care during unsettled times of the global pandemic,
  • Deliberate communication around what is required vs. what is optional, and why optional activities are beneficial to learning, and
  • Reinforcing that online learning is a temporary effort and that there will be adjustments as time goes on
  • Flexibility is key

Responsibility: Admin, Classroom Teachers

Ensure Professional Development/Teacher Competency

What formal professional development offerings will be available and/or required for staff?
  • OLLIE courses (description | registration), *there is a cost; classes are offered certain times of the year; recommend for additional training
  • Regional AEA support
  • Local professional development training (e.g., Leadership Team members and instructional coaches) 
    • send out district-wide knowledge level survey for staff
    • based on results develop a tiered plan (beginning, middle, advanced)
  • Other training (e.g. Google/Microsoft/Apple Teacher).
    • email out weekly/bi-weekly how-to tech tips
    • technology half-days in August

Responsibility: members of the leadership team within their area

What informal support will be available?
  • Technology tutorials, guidance and overall support,
  • Professional learning modules in online pedagogy
    •  (OLLIE)
  • Access to other teachers’ work for idea generation.
    • staff shares their own ideas

Responsibility: NM Admin

What special assistance will teachers need?
  • Ensuring that Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 508 compliance is followed for websites;
  • Reinforcing and monitoring of ethics and safety in the online environment;
  • Reviewing what being mandatory reporters might look like in an online environment;
  • Strategies related to building social presence and the sense of community in a digital space;
  • FERPA or privacy compliance issues;
  • Copyright training or guidance; and
  • Local policies in regards to social media usage.
  • Training for para assistance for students

Responsibility: Department of Ed, Administration, ITS (April and Chris)

What are acceptable ways for students to contact teachers?
  • Email or Google Classroom
  • Parent meetings via online or phone

Responsibility: Classroom Teacher

How will your non-classroom teachers be used to support the work of teachers?

Non-classroom teachers will assist teachers in their work to deliver instruction and support students in learning.  

Responsibility: TBD

Define and Ensure Student Access

How will you assure that students have access to the internet?

Gather data to see which students are allowed to take home and use a school device, or if they have one at home they can rely on 

Gather data to see if students have access to home internet, or if there are alternatives that can be provided (e.g., wifi access from buses, school parking lots); and

Reach out to local internet and cellular providers for additional access opportunities. (Talk with MCG/Windstream)

Responsibility: Admin, ITS/Chris

How will you consider the needs of all students to be successful in the selected platform?

To what extent can the student work independently? What is developmentally appropriate for the student’s age and grade level? How will the needs of those students with executive function and self-regulation challenges be met? (Google Classroom/Meet will meet this needs / Each individual teacher will help ensure support for students’ instructional needs)

Are there assistive technologies any student may need? (Teachers can include links to other websites or content through Google Classroom)

What supports are needed to establish a learning space in the home environment (e.g., desk or quiet space)? How will they be provided? (Communicate with parents about recommendations for learning spaces at home)

Responsibility: ITS, NM Staff

How will you ensure students with disabilities are able to access the curriculum?

We will follow the identified IEP or 504 plan to ensure students with disabilities are able to access the curriculum. 

Responsibility: Guidance, TAG & ELL Teachers

What are your plans for exceptional learners?

We will follow the student’s identified plan to ensure exceptional learners have their needs met. 

Responsibility: Guidance, TAG & ELL Teachers

Will students be required to conduct group work? If yes, how will student group work be conducted?
  • Will need to teach staff and students how to use Zooms/Google Meets so they can collaboratively work together as needed

Responsibility: NM Staff

What technical support will be provided for students and parents?

Parents may request technical support by calling and/or emailing the school’s technology coordinator at sampsonc@nmwarhawks.org

What student supports (e.g., counseling) will you provide to students?

Counseling will be provided on an as needed basis.  Students, parents, and teachers may refer students to the guidance counselors for check-ins and/or counseling services.  Guidance counselors will provide on-line resources and lessons to support students, families, and staff. The Elementary School Counselor will meet with students through Zoom and/or Google Meet or Google Classroom. 

Career planning and scheduling of classes will continue through a closure. The guidance counselors will meet with students through Google.  

The 7-12 School Counselor will meet with students through Zoom and/or Google Meet to discuss scheduling of classes. The 7-12 School Counselor will provide websites and resources concerning career planning (Kuder, ICAN, access to virtual college visits, etc).

Mental health supports will continue to be provided via telehealth from our licensed social workers.

Has your district adequately considered all the questions above?

Yes, we are planning to make these services required for students.  We have adequately considered all of the questions above and have completed all of the assurances on the department of education’s webpage.  North Mahaska’s Return to Learn Plan has been approved by the Iowa Department of Education.  

Additionally, we will consider the CDC recommendations for Schools to ensure safety:


The health and safety components of this plan are in a separate document posted on the district’s webpage.  

Resources Supporting the Considerations in This Document 

Technology Tools and Resources

Sample IT Audit

Sample Parent Survey to Assess Technology Access 

Tips to Improve Your Internet Connection at Home

Accessibility Resources

AEA Guidance – Part B Parameters

Google Tools: Leveling the Playing Field for All Learners

Google Support for Accessibility

Accessibility features in Macs

Assistive Features in AEA Digital Resources 

Resources for Teachers

General Resources 

Privacy Tips when Using Zoom

Privacy Tips for Using Google Meet

BoEE Code of Ethics

How to use breakout rooms in Zoom

Resources to Use with Students

Digital Citizenship and CyberBullying Modules for students in AEA Learning Online