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Eagle Start Updates

Eagle Start Updates

JULY 22, 2020


Dear Eagle Nation:

CoVID-19 continues to present challenges as we plan for the new school year. Yesterday’s declaration of a “State of Emergency” by the Boone County Health Department (BCHD) highlighted the need for citizens to action toward helping slow the rapid spread of CoVID-19.  A second statement from BCHD authorities related to school reopening was released yesterday and is shared here.


In brief, the health department strongly recommends that Boone County middle and high school students attend school on an alternating schedule until a look back period evidences reduction of spread. Utilizing a metric developed in South Carolina for assessing community spread of CoVID into three categories, BCHD declares Boone County to be in the middle response category. They have consulted various experts and cite as an important aspect of their recommendation that disease spread is less efficient among younger students. Thus, the recommendation to proceed with the daily elementary program while remaining vigilant with mitigation efforts of cohort separation, frequent hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing where possible, and frequent cleaning of high touch areas. Daily self-screening by staff and confirmation of students' health by parents will be required as well.


Following yesterday's release of the Boone County Health Department's recommendation, our ZCS CoVID-19 Task Force continued working with our consulting data scientist to confirm that a separated hybrid cohort provides the best possible network separation (of student contact webs) during the school day. When coupled with the elongated time frame of consecutive days of cohort separation and the span across weekends, the schedule shown below has better, more predictable separation of student networks and intra-cohort interactions than other scheduling models explored.  


Given our change to the hybrid schedule recommended by BCHD so as to help contain expanding community spread of CoVID-19, the following information is of critical importance as you plan for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.





  • In accordance with the recommendation from BCHD and guidance from local health experts, we have developed a new middle and high school schedule that allows for the implementation of the strategies suggested by BCHD so that in the future we may have the opportunity to have all ZCS students back in schools at the same time . (Details of the new schedule are shown below in table format.)
  • The start time for all secondary school days will be 9:00AM (as noticed last week).
  • The elementary start time will remain at 8:00AM (with Kindergarten starting at 9:00AM).
  • Students in ZCS secondary schools will see the following features of their weekly school schedule:
    • Remote students will be online for all days of instruction.
    • Monday is an all online day for middle and high school students.
    • Monday will operate on a seven-period schedule.
    • Tuesday through Friday will rotate separate cohorts of students (Cohort A = Students with last names A-K;
      Cohort B = Students with last names L-Z) on a block schedule that will look as follows:
      • Tuesday and Wednesday: ONLY Cohort A students attend in person
        • Tuesday Schedule: first four of eight block periods (Green Day)
        • Wednesday Schedule: second four of eight block periods (Silver Day)
        • All remote and Cohort B students participate in the same schedule online
      • Thursday and Friday: ONLY Cohort B students attend in person
        • Thursday Schedule: first four of eight block periods (Green Day)
        • Friday Schedule: second four of eight block periods (Silver Day)
        • All remote and Cohort A students participate in the same schedule online
    • All in person elementary students will attend in person every school day.
    • All remote elementary students will attend remotely each day with their designated, ZCS instructor at the lead.

If parents wish to revise last week’s selection regarding remote or in-person schooling, the opportunity is here via THIS LINK. PLEASE NOTE that you will need the student I.D. information to be shared by secure document transfer for each student coming under separate cover. (Please check your SPAM folder if you do not receive by 2:30PM today, 7/22/2020.)  Selection revision opportunity closes at midnight Sunday, July 26, 2020.

Following are tables/exhibits depicting important information complementary to narrative descriptions shown above.


tableImportant Terms and Other Information to Know

  • REMOTE STUDENTS: Students who always receive instruction at home (based on parental choice). Secondary remote students will be instructed synchronously by logging in to their scheduled classes at the appropriate times. Elementary remote students will be assigned to a designated remote-only teacher who will lead their group’s instruction.

  • IN-PERSON STUDENTS: These are students who come to school for some or all of their instruction (based upon parent choice). At the middle and high school levels, in-person students are designated to be in one or the other of two cohorts as follows:

    • COHORT A: Secondary students with last names A-K.
      • These students are learning online on Mondays when we are in the mid or high categories for scheduling.
      • These students are in person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
      • These students are online (synchronously) on Thursdays and Fridays.
    • COHORT B: Secondary students with last names L-Z.
      • These students are learning online on Mondays when we are in the mid or high categories for scheduling.
      • These students are online (synchronously) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
      • These students are in person on Thursdays and Fridays.

    • HOME
      • In the table just above, the word "Home" is used to indicate that members of this cohort are learning from home on the designated days, and in a synchronous day. That is, they will participate in the green day and silver day rotations of class periods by logging on at home during the designated periods as driven by the bell schedule.

  • SECONDARY SYNCHRONOUS LEARNING: All students will log in to their assigned classes as per the published bell schedule when learning from home. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each period.

  • MATERIALS PICK-UP FOR REMOTE STUDENTS:  We are still awaiting some supplies and equipment, so we will announce the plan for this prior to the start of school.

  • CALENDAR CHANGES:  As a means to facilitate this newest wrinkle in our CoVID-19 journey, we have made some important calendar changes.

    • First day of school for students is Monday, August 10.
    • Back to School Days for middle schools and high school will move to July 30 and 31. Additional details will be supplied to parents by principals.
    • The elementary Meet the Teacher Night moves from July 31 to August 6.
    • The four instructional days missed by moving our start date will be taken from the February break week that was to be new in this year’s school calendar. Four of those days will become instructional days for students and staff (February 16-19) and Monday, February 15th will be a non-student and non-staff day. We chose not to upset the Fall Break schedule at this juncture because we are unclear about what our needs will be as we move into October.

  • ABOUT ATHLETICS: The Boone County Health Department advised that our athletic programs following the IHSAA phases of implementation remain in Phase I until their review of data on July 31.

  • ABOUT BOONE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA REVIEW: BCHD has utilized a variety of data points in their work to assist us in handling the CoVID-19 crisis since last February. We will continue to consult with BCHD about how we navigate the balance of this challenge.

  • ABOUT MASKS: Face coverings are required for students and staff on all ZCS campuses. Crocheted masks (with open holes) are not be permitted.

  • ADDITIONAL SCHEDULE INFORMATION: Shown below this closing and signature below are our schedule plans when success in controlling disease spread allows a five-day per week in-person middle and high school schedule--or when continued slide will likely result in the recommendation of all-online school for ZCS. 


EAGLE START GUIDE:  The Eagle Start Guide is located on the ZCS website at The landing page link will update as plan changes are made. Changes related to this message will be reflected in the online guide by the end of this week. Changes will be captured separately on a tab called Plan Updates so you can easily see what has changed. We have also added an FAQ tab. Questions and answers will be updated as new questions arise.


I would like nothing more than to assert that this will be the last swerve foisted upon us while on the CoVID-19 journey. However, given the recent virus resurgence that brings some kind of new information or update almost daily, additional surprises seem likely. Experts in public health tell me that adherence to mitigation strategies known to slow contagious disease spread like social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, and frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces will make positive inroads against CoVID-19 that may allow our schools to open fully. Thanks for helping your children, especially the adolescent and young adult ones, to help all of us by following mitigation best practices because we are all on this journey together.

Together we can. Together we will!




Scott Robison, Superintendent

Zionsville Community Schools


Additional Schedule Information (Subject to change according to health authorities' recommendations and/or Governor Holcomb's Executive Order or direction from the Indiana Department of Education)




JULY 15, 2020


Dear Eagle Parents*—

Good evening.

The time for parent selection of IN-PERSON or REMOTE learning for our school year starting August 4, 2020 is now

DEADLINE:  THIS FRIDAY, July 17, 2020. The three (3) question** SURVEY LINK IS HERE.

We can mitigate virus spread through strategies prescribed by a variety of experts and authorized by our Boone County Health Department. And we will!

Thank you for completing the survey as soon as possible.

All the best.

Scott Robison, Superintendent

Zionsville Community Schools

*Please note that parents of enrolled students for the 2020-2021 school year are asked to complete this brief survey. I have intentionally cast the net widely to ensure that all returning and newly enrolled parents are included. Apologies if you received two copies. Please do not respond to this brief survey if you do not have a child from your household enrolled in the Zionsville Community Schools.  Thanks.

**It actually is just three questions! The demographic information helps us log your preferences in our student assist software, PowerSchool.  Thanks.


JULY 10, 2020


Dear Eagle Parents—


The EAGLE START PLAN is HERE! The CoVID-19 context will keep this living guide under construction and test everyone’s flexibility as we start school on August 4. We will be ready, and we will succeed in creating tens of thousands of quality relationship-building and teachable moments every week for the 7300+ students we serve. Thanks for giving us this opportunity by choosing ZCS.

Please see the following important notes:

YouTube LIVE, Take Two!  On Wednesday, July 15, from 6:30-7:30PM, our CoVID-19 Task Force leads will offer another YouTube LIVE Q & A session as we promised during last week’s broadcast. (The invitation link will be shared with you early next week.)


Cohort Separation: An important in-person strategy! Our Coronavirus Task Force continues to work with a data science team to fully leverage the power of exposure mitigation through cohort separation. This is an important aspect of our layered mitigation approach involving mask-wearing, distancing, parents/staff screener use, and more.


Let us know!  After next Wednesday’s YouTube LIVE session, we will be issuing a brief survey allowing parents to choose in-person or remote learning and indicate transportation need. This will be a time-sensitive matter that will require a response by the end of next week, July 17, 2020. Thanks for being responsive to this need. The default for families who do not respond will be scheduling for the in-person option.


Extra-Curriculars are Extra!  I have pondered a small cluster of calls and emails this week regarding mask wearing and sports like volleyball, cheerleading, etc. At times this does not reconcile with the school day mask requirement we spoke of last Tuesday evening during our live session. I have spoken with athletic leaders who trained coaches in recent weeks on IHSAA guidance about mask use. During indoor conditioning and the competition seasons all of these sports teams are practicing toward, mask wearing will be intermittent and not include times of great exertion. Our athletics and extra-curricular recommendations from the IHSAA about mask use and necessary mask relaxation during exertion do not reconcile with our school day requirement of masks.  (Note that even our school day mask wearing requirement will be relaxed when students are eating, playing an instrument that requires it, and so on—at the discretion of supervising adults).  Many, many parents have determined that the leadership learning, physical conditioning, and mental/emotional wellness benefits of athletic, band, and other extra-curricular engagements are balanced against the increased exposure to injury (and now increased exposure to CoVID-19) that may occur with such participation.

We are still stocking up. We are still managing the changes due to continuing guidance and oversight of health and governmental authorities. We are opening August 4. We can. We will.



All the best,



Scott Robison, Superintendent

Zionsville Community Schools

JUNE 28, 2020

Last week's survey returns are still being analyzed as part of our "Eagle Start" planning process. Thank you to nearly 5,000 parents and more than 800 staff people who responded
 Our planning continued last week with new meetings and consults with Boone County Health Department officials, state officials, and contributing volunteer experts. 
You may know that ZCS (and other Indiana school districts) were supplied volumes of guidance by various state agencies, health officials, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Indiana, the design for decision-making placed local officials on point with oversight by county boards of health. The three Boone County school districts have worked closely with the Boone County Health Department (BCHD) for some weeks. We appreciate their collaboration and candor as various aspects of the COVID-19 picture continue to morph in one direction or another. For our part as superintendents, we sought to create a set of brief, common statements about topics for our BCHD assessors and advisors to consider as a standard for schooling in the county. Though it is highly subject to change before school starts on August 4, this document is the often changed current version that is our set of guardrails.
At 6:30PM on Tuesday, July 7, I will be joined for 90 minutes on YouTube Live by co-leaders of the ZCS Coronavirus School Start Task Force, Assistant Superintendent Kris Devereaux (Academics) and Assistant Superintendent Becky Coffman (Operations and Facilities) for a live discussion about our evolving plan to open school on August 4 (with school instruction in-person, and online for those who need it). Details of our livestream will be communicated as soon as arrangements are finalized. 
Our finalized planning documents are slated to be released online at our main website on July 10. Let's note that there are likely to be changes and TBD items there as well--as the COVID-19 roller coaster continues to take us on its ride throughout July and into our early August start. Flexible and collaborative wins this race. Altogether now!
All classes get underway on July 6, and with happy children registered and ready for fun programs and affiliations--socially distanced and flush with precautions, pre-screening by parents to help mitigate COVID-19 spread, and lots and lots of ongoing cleaning. 
IHSAA guidance has been interpreted by athletic leaders and coaches such that precautions, pre-checks, and guardrails are in place for sports and other activities of importance to begin--also on July 6.
I am told that some parents of our great Class of 2020 have arranged blue skies and a no-humidity day of 72 degrees on July 11 when we will again fete these outstanding young people! If Mother Nature brings a pop-up shower at 2PM, we'll move to 6PM. If the second time slot is marred by hail or blizzard (c'mon, now, you know it could happen in Indiana!), we'll move to Sunday the 12th at 2PM. We'll social distance and wear the traditional garb. These successful young adults deserve it. 
Three (3) has always been my lucky number, and just as I consider the departure of so many 13 year seniors with whom I came of age as a ZCS leader (Class of 2020), I see 500 or so little ones headed here to become the cohort that doubles my lucky number (Class of 2033)! Last night I wrote the brief copy for personalized post cards each new kindergarten student will receive in mid-July. We'll choose a book and do the video in which I read to the new K-kids on the night before kindergarten. (Did you know that virtually all of the area superintendents are now copying this idea that our Janet Mann brought to me three years ago? Imitation is the sincerest...) Since most parents of the Class of 2033 are already loaded into our PowerSchool database, let this be the first call for First Day of Kindergarten pictures from parents of the Class of '33! Send them to ... THANK YOU!  (Gratuitous inclusion of pictures I took of my caboose kid on his first day of K back in 2009 appear above!) These trips 'round the sun go faster and faster. Rookie school parents of the Class of 2033, take heed and enjoy the ride! 
Thanks for stopping by this summer update about ZCS. Stay safe and stay healthy!
All the best.
Robison Signature
Scott Robison, Superintendent
Zionsville Community Schools