School year start date approved for Sept. 8

25% of students opt for virtual learning

A view of the back side of the South Tama middle school following the August 10 derecho. The 105 year old building sustained roof damage and water intrusion and is off limits for use until at least December. Allison Graham/News Chronicle

The South Tama County school board approved a start day of September 8. The start date was pushed back due to damages sustained at the STC Middle School after the August 10 derecho.

School officials have had revamp plans following the derecho.

State Requirements

All public schools are required by the state to have either a specific number of school days or hours. At STC hours are counted and 1080 hours are required by the end of the year.

Missing the first two weeks of school is making the school try new creative ways to make sure enough hours are accounted for by the end of the year.

The first semester will have 84 days while second semester has 86 days.

The end of first semester was originally scheduled for December 18 however due to the late start school officials felt it was best to push the end of first semester back.

The issue of semester days has more of an impact for the high school than the elementary. According to Superintendent Jared Smith it is very hard for a high school teacher to teach one semester course that is say 70 days and another that is 100. The end of the first semester is now Friday, January 22. High school finals will be after winter break.

Office Hours

It had been originally decided that school would dismiss an hour early each week. The original thought was that would give staff the extra time needed to plan for in person and virtual teaching.

Now that the first two weeks of instruction will be missed due to the derecho staff will be using that planning time for office hours. Students and parents can reach out to teachers after dismissal for extra help or questions they may have.

Teachers will hold office hours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays from 2:40-3:45 p.m. Wednesdays there will be no office hours to accommodate for teacher professional learning communities.

Office hours will count as instructional hours which will help the school achieve the 1080 hours required by the state.

Hour early dismissal and special days

As stated, students will be dismissed each day at the high school at 2:10 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. at the elementary.

A new rule in the Iowa legislature states that when school is cancelled due to snow days school can still be held virtually. It is unclear at this time how that will work at South Tama.

Staff will return on September 1 for professional development. With the derecho occurring many staff were and are still dealing with cleanup and no power and thus their start date was pushed back just like the students.

Two extra days of professional development were added at the end of the year on June 2 and 3.

“This is all to justify why we didn’t require staff to come back on the 18th and the payment from tax payers,” Smith said.

The last day of school for students is May 28.

Virtual Learning Breakdown

Out of South Tama’s 1600 students, 385 have opted for virtual learning. The breakdown by school is 125 high school students, 125 middle school students and 135 elementary students will be learning virtually.

By grade break down:

PK – 17

K – 26

1st -18

2nd – 21

3rd – 24

4th – 29

5th – 28

6th – 26

7th – 42

8th – 29

9th – 23

10th – 36

11th – 33

12th – 33

As students are preparing for virtual and hybrid learning it will be crucial that students have access to internet at home. The school purchased180 hot spots with the Cares Act money. Smith is confident the school will be able to provide a hot spot to any school family who is in need.


Volunteer coaches approved include Josh Bly for MS/HS football, Jay Hoskey for MS/HS Football and Morgan McFate for HS Football Cheer.

A transfer for Angelica Gomez was approved from part-time para SPED position (4 hours/day) to part-time ELL position (6 hours/day) at STC Elementary.

Tiffany Thiessen, Glen Taylor, Eugene Ubben and Deidra Mohr were approved for officiating.

Courtney Welton is a new hire for the Trauma Informed Care Unit para.

A COVID-19 tracker position had been approved by the board at a previous meeting. However due to the damage sustained at the middle school Jessica Wilkerson, the STC Middle School Nurse will be doing that job since 6-8th grade will be learning virtually.

In other business

A public hearing was set for September 8 to approve the repairs to the tennis courts. The project will cost roughly $400,000.

The middle school handbook was approved

Future board meetings

Tuesday, September 8

Wednesday, September 23

*September meetings will be held via google meets