Darren D. Hanna

Superintendent of Schools

Emmetsburg Community School District

Office  (712) 852-3201

I hope this letter finds you and your family safe and well.  I can say with great confidence that the past two weeks have been the most challenging and rewarding in my twenty years as a school administrator.  It somewhat reminds me of the old commercial of building a plane while we are flying it. My purpose is to both provide my perspective of the current situation and information concerning your children and school  

We need to take the spread of COVID-19 cases in Iowa seriously.  Everything I have read, watched, or listened to, points to the fact that this virus has the ability to overwhelm our health system.  Our efforts need to focus on how to manage the spread of the disease so we can manage the impact on our healthcare system. It is evident from information coming from other countries, that not taking prudent steps to manage the spread of the virus, has dire consequences, especially for the most vulnerable in our community.  

If you can stay home.  It may not be you that is impacted, but someone you love.  In addition, give thought to our healthcare workers and others in essential businesses who must go to work.  Let’s all pull together to do our best to discipline ourselves to help them.  

School Closure

School is currently scheduled to resume on Monday, April 13, 2020.  On the school calendar, the 13th was scheduled as a vacation day while April 14th and 15th were to be utilized as School Make-Up Days for inclement weather.  I believe everyone would agree that we have had enough time off and as such we will resume school on Monday, April 13, 2020.

During this period, we are taking the opportunity to have all staff engage remotely in curriculum work, professional development, and complete managerial tasks.  Our goal is to be a better organization when your children return from the closure then when it started.  


ECSD continues to serve by providing breakfast and lunch grab and go meals to the children of our community.  In addition, we have bus drivers delivering on their country routes and to daycare centers. Yesterday we provided 340 breakfast bags and 340 lunch bags.  We will continue the program M-F 7:30-9:00 a.m. until at least Friday, April 10, 2020.

Grab and Go Meal Pick-Up Procedures

  • Please enter the South Parking Lot Driveway and proceed North down the circle drive to the Middle School Entrance.

  • Let us know how many meals by holding up the correct number of fingers.  

  • We will deposit the lunches in the bin on the table by the steps.  Please remain in your vehicle.

  • Once the worker has gone back to the building, exit your vehicle and grab your meals.

  • Exit onto King St. from the Circle Drive. 

Retrieval of Student Personal Items

The Administration Team has a plan for West and HS/MS.  We are constantly monitoring the situation on the ground as it relates to COVID-19.  It is very difficult to decide when is the right time for students to retrieve their non-essential personal items.  Much of our thinking is around whether or not the Governor will reopen schools at the end of the current closure. If the recommendation is to extend the closure it would in part be based on verified cases and community spread of COVID-19.  I am concerned that bringing students together to get non-essential personal items will only accelerate the number of cases associated with community spread. All of the steps that have been taken to this point, were done so to lessen the number of people ill at any one time.  This virus has the ability to overwhelm our health system. The plans are ready and we will make a decision to implement the plans based on information from Palo Alto County Public Health and others working closely on this issue.  

Board Meeting

We will be holding the March Board Meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), March, 25th.  The Annual Certified Budget Hearing will start at 5:30 with the monthly meeting to follow.  We will be utilizing Zoom and offering Board Members the ability to participate from home. We will also utilize the Conference Room next to my office at the High School for those that wish to participate in person.  We are still required to allow for public comments during the Annual Certified Budget Hearing. We will use a remote location at the entryway to Door 4 utilizing Zoom.  

Learning Resources

We will be informing families of free online resources for distance learning that could be utilized at home during this closure.  I would also recommend that we take this time to spend time with our children. Parents are a child’s first teacher and this time can be utilized to strengthen that bond.  We often claim that we just do not have the time to spend with our children that we would like. In addition, there are some simple activities that will have a big impact:

  • Spend time with kids

  • Read with/to

  • Games of strategy

  • Online opportunities

If the closure is extended we will be offering additional distance learning opportunities.  

Prom and Graduation

I know that many of you are concerned about events such as Prom and Graduation.  You may see some information on postponing or canceling events such as these coming from other Districts.  These events and events like them are important experiences for our students. We do not take lightly the postponing and canceling of these events.  In this case, my thinking is “We will make the decisions we need to make, but we will not make them until we need to make them.” The situation is just too fluid to look out that far.  Let’s see where we are on April 10th and we will proceed from there :)  

Thank you for your understanding and patience through these unique challenges for our School and Community.  

Darren D Hanna

Superintendent Emmetsburg Community School District