Jeff Maeder

<About Me>

Hello again Columbus Community.  It’s great to be back in a new role serving in the Columbus School District.  Over the past five years, I’ve reflected on my previous time here as principal.  Columbus is a special place to be, filled with many opportunities to enhance the lives of our kids.  It’s an honor to be your superintendent.

Speaking of school leadership, we have two new building administrators to be excited about.  Mark Yeoman at the JH/HS and Kristina Murphy at Roundy are our new principals.  Both have been on the job since the first of the month and are busy becoming familiar with their staffs and are working with teachers and community members already in developing our Return to Learn plan.  Providing a safe learning environment in light of the Covid pandemic will be an ongoing focus for the upcoming year.

The rest of this article will be to provide an update to our families and community about the Columbus Return to Learn plan.  

It’s important to understand this is an ongoing process as we utilize guidance from several sources.  These include the Iowa Department of Education and Public Health, CDC and our local county health department.  Although this update does not include all the many details of our plan, I want to assure our families, staff and community that we’re working diligently to make the start of school on August 24th as safe as possible.  Further plan details that will hopefully answer many questions and concerns of parents and staff will be provided in the next couple of weeks.

At the present time, we’re developing health and safety procedures for staff and students.  Additional cleaning supplies and equipment are being ordered, and there will be ongoing cleaning and disinfecting occurring daily.  We will be arranging schedules and classrooms to provide as much social distancing as possible.  Wearing of facemasks will be strongly encouraged by staff and students, however, we have not yet decided on whether this will be mandatory.  There will likely be additional safety procedures put in place for students who ride the bus to school.

We are planning to start school with all students onsite on August 24th.  The state is requiring that we have an alternate plan or plans in place in case of a spike in positive cases.  We continue to work on both a hybrid plan and a remote learning plan if we have to close the school.  Both plans will utilize online learning, and if necessary, the provision of packets.  One important thing to remember:  all instruction provided by the school will be required, just as if students are attending in person.  However, it’s also important to remember that if we’re not having school onsite, it will likely be temporary (hopefully as little as a few weeks).

We have identified 3 possible hybrid model plans should we need to move from having all students at school at the same time temporarily.  One involves having students attend school one day a week and online for three days; another has students attending alternating full days, and the third model has students attending half days every day.  A survey was sent out to both staff and parents on these three models, and we’re studying which one has the most support and feasibility.

Our staff is also working on a delivery model for online, or remote instruction.  This will likely be used as part of the hybrid plan, or if we have to close school temporarily.  We also want to be able to provide instruction for students who may have to be out of school for several days due to health-related reasons (ex. Testing positive, or otherwise quarantined if they’ve been exposed or live with someone who has tested positive).  


We feel it’s important to emphasize that being physically in the classroom provides the highest quality of learning and instruction for several reasons.  In person learning allows for better monitoring and addressing of individual needs, social interaction with peers, expert level instruction from caring teachers and staff, and social emotional learning opportunities are just a few of the advantages.  At Columbus, we believe we can offer all of these and more to our students if they are present at school.

There is more information to follow In the next couple of weeks, and we’ll be sure to provide updates more regularly as we approach the start of school in August.  In the meantime, please enjoy all your planned summer activities, and know that your teachers, administrators, school board and fellow community members are working continuously to prepare for the beginning of the school year.  Please feel free to email or call me if you have any questions.

See you soon,

Jeff Maeder, Supt.