2021-09-17 Noticias de ISLA y ISLA PTO

September 18, 2021

Emily Smith

Administrative Assistant

Letter from the Director

September 17th, 2021

Queridas familias, 

I hope this message finds you well and you are all able to get some rest this weekend and enjoy this beautiful weather. The first week of school at ISLA ended quite well, and our students and teachers are all falling into welcome routines.  We have clarified and straightened out some of our Covid 19 prevention protocols, made enormous progress on our pickup and dropoff routines, and are seeing some nice advances in the building construction.  

We are fielding a number of comments about transportation issues, and please know that we are strategizing and problem solving with the bus company. The main issue with the bus company is that they are having HR issues finding drivers. This is not unique to their company, as I am sure you have heard, as other metro districts are experiencing ride times of over 2 hours, complete service cancellations, and they even brought in the National Guard to help transport kids in Massachusetts.   Here is a summary of our transportation procedures, as well as a construction update: 

Building Update:

Please see attached pdf for building updates and key dates: Building Update

We are pleased to announce that we will be able to have dropoff and pickup in the back parking lot after MEA weekend, the kitchen is ready for hot lunch, and the playground was returned to us on Monday.    Stay tuned for more details. 

Pick up/ Drop off procedures (Until construction is completed):  (FYI, in the morning, we are consistently getting through the entire line of cars before 9:20 now, and the average pick up wait time is 7 or 8 minutes).    

  1. Please do not turn left into the lot off of 78th street unless you are a PRE-K family. 
  2. Please do not cross 78th Street on foot.
  3. Please do not park in adjacent parking lots and walk over to pick up your child. 
  4. Please do not get out of your car. Staff members are available to help your ISLA student in/and out of the car. 
  5. Please give the buses the right of way to enter the property first.  If a bus arrives late, we will let the bus through the line.  
  6. While dropping off or picking up children, cars stay in the left lane (south) while buses stay in the right lane (north).
  7. Pre-K parking:  We have managed to get a few more parking spaces from the construction company for our staff, and have reserved parking spaces in the lot for Pre-K dropoff and pickup only.  Families with Pre-k students are the only families allowed to get out of their vehicles during drop off or pickup (unless you have a pre-arranged meeting).    
  8. Remember to display your student’s unique number on your passenger side window or dashboard. 
  9. If you have more than one ISLA student, please only display the number for your oldest child.   We will call that number and the student will exit with their siblings.   If for any reason your oldest child is ill or absent, please display the number of your next oldest child. 
  10. If you need to pick up your child early, please plan on picking up before 3:45.  We follow Minnesota Department of Education guidelines and issue a “tardy” for such pickups. 
  11. NEW this year*****Please remember to communicate all transportation changes to the office and your child's teacher by 12:00 pm, unless it is a family emergency, in which case it is imperative that you call the office and speak to a staff person. 




The Transportation Hub

As the transportation committee is getting a lot of attention these days, we wanted to introduce ourselves and provide some updates.

First, a bit of background:
Members: Kris Taylor (kristaylor78@gmail.com), Isabelle Krisch (board representative, ikrisch@isla.school), Emily Smith (esmith@isla.school), and Jeremy Perrin (jperrin@isla.school)

Contact information: transportation@isla.school

Versatrans bus tracking support: tyler@northstarbuslines.com and tim@northstarbuslines.com. Phone: 763-425-2542.

Current activities:
The beginning of the school year with the new building, working with a new bus company and utilizing our own ISLA admin team (and not Hopkins transportation staff), and many other changes has created some additional challenges and operational items to iron out.  

We have been collating feedback from the community on how busing is going. While families are generally happy with the expanded busing area and opportunities provided in this way, there are some common concerns we are actively working to address:

  • Students consistently on the bus for more than an hour
  • Students consistently arriving at ISLA after school start time
  • Limitations of Versatrans App (duration of time this information is available, challenges of tracking bus when bus is “off route”)
  • Communication challenges when busses are running late, driver absences, etc
  • Ensuring COVID practices are upheld as outlined by NorthStar

While these concerns are not universal, we are aware of certain routes where this has been particularly problematic (Bus #s 1,3,5) and will be making changes to address these in the coming weeks.

Actions we are taking:

  • Gathering data (Tracking arrival and departure times for each bus route) and getting additional electronic infrastructure to have automatic data available to administration for monitoring
  • Arranging meeting with Northstar to ensure contract provisions are being carried out. This includes limiting busing duration <1 hour and making sure students are at school for designated school hours.
  • Providing feedback to NorthStar about app limitations and suggestions for improvement
  • Listening and responding to family feedback and concerns

As none of these are quick fixes, we do ask for your patience as we navigate these complex scenarios. We will continue to provide regular updates as we learn more and update families if changes need to be made. We understand just how much of a hardship this has created for many families and very much want changes to happen too.

How can you help?

  • Continue to share your feedback with transportation committee, Emily and Sr Perrin when things are not aligning with set expectations, safety concerns, delays not seen on the app, etc. Facebook is a helpful community resource, but is not monitored by administration.
  • Connect with other parents on your bus and create your own parent networks. ISLA community has strengths in organizing and supporting each other at the community level
  • In order to not lose your bus stop, if you opt to try alternative forms of transportation for a bit, please do not miss a bus ride for 10 or more consecutive times.
  • Have other thoughts, suggestions, solutions? These are always welcome too.

Finally, Want to be part of the change? join a committee!

  • The tech committee and marketing committee need more support to keep the website up to date and be a another important means for dispersing information and optimizing communication. This could also include busing info!

There have been additional questions about fees, when families will be billed for busing, etc. More information on this will come in October. We are working on different payment plan options and are motivated to find ways to make busing affordable for all families. To that end, scholarships (in a limited amount) are also available for those who are in need. Please send an inquiry to Emily Smith and the transportation committee. Deadlines for application will be October 31st.

Please continue to speak up and reach out to the transportation committee, Jeremy, and ISLA. We appreciate all the feedback

The transportation committee meeting is next scheduled on 10/11/21 at 4:30 pm via zoom. All are welcome to attend. See the ISLA calendar on the website for details.

Spirit Store Closing Sunday, September 19th!

The Spirit Store is closing this Sunday, September 19. Get your uniform-approved shirts and sweatshirts to be in style for this school year. Please note in the order comments your child’s name and grade. Click to order! https://isla-pto.square.site/

Did you know that the Spirit Store is a fundraiser for the PTO? Your purchase of uniform-approved shirts and sweatshirts will help support PTO sponsored events such as the back to school picnic, provide funds for classroom supplies and extra-curricular scholarships, and also supports the LA program.

This will be the last opening until the snow flies so don’t delay!

Questions? Contact Sarah or Heidi at spiritstore@isla.school. (NEW EMAIL!!)

Nurses Corner


ISLA School Board has approved a mandatory vaccination policy for all persons working in the school building (this includes anyone volunteering at ISLA). You will be asked to verify your vaccination status by showing your vaccine card the first time you volunteer at ISLA. We will keep a confidential record that you have been verified, and you will not need to show proof at future visits. When you are fully protected (2 weeks after your final dose of the vaccine), you will be eligible to volunteer. Please refer to the mandatory vaccination policy on the ISLA website for more specific information. Thank you for volunteering at ISLA, we appreciate you!


Please touch base with your child every morning to make sure they are feeling well before sending them to school. If they aren't feeling well, please keep them home. The symptoms that are suspected for COVID are the same as last year. Please refer to the "Recommended Decision Tree for Staff and Students in Schools" link for a list COVID-suspect symptoms.


If your child has symptoms that are listed in the previous link, please have them tested for COVID. Once they are tested, you need to wait for negative test results before they return to school. Please forward test results (which should include the student's name, date and type of test, and what the test results were) once you receive them. The student should also be feeling better before they return, even if the test result is negative. If your child returns when they are still coughing or has a runny nose, another student could easily develop these same symptoms and then also need to be sent home and tested for COVID.

Please use this email covid19reporting@isla.school to alert ISLA if your child is sick with COVID-suspect symptoms and is getting tested, your child (or someone in the household) tests positive for COVID, or if your child was identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive. Someone will reach out to you with the recommended next steps.

Minnesota Department of Health Launches New Mobile App to give Minnesotans Access to Their Immunization Records

Minnesotans can now easily access their immunization record through their smartphones or other mobile devices by using an app called Docket. Docket enables residents with a Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) record to securely view and share their immunization records.

MIIC, Minnesota’s immunization information system, combines all immunizations a person has received into a single record, even if they were given by different health care providers in Minnesota. Anyone who has a MIIC record can use the Docket app to access their record, including their COVID-19 vaccination. The app provides a PDF document of the immunization record that can be saved to your mobile device, printed, emailed, or texted as needed. Docket is free and available for download in Apple and Android app stores. For more information, visit Find My Immunization Record.

ISLA Lunch Program requesting Volunteers for September!

Did you know that Volunteers are critical to ISLA's lunch program? Working alongside Jorge Gomez (ISLA's lunch manager), ISLA lunch volunteers prep for lunch, greet the kids, serve the food, and clean up. This is a fun opportunity to help out and see the kids during the school day. ISLA is seeking 3 volunteers for each day, 10:45am-1:15pm. Select multiple days if you are interested in a regular spot (daily, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly) Occasional volunteers and substitutes are also welcome! If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0d4fa4a62aa1ff2-isla23

Due to the activities involved, bringing siblings along for this volunteer role is not allowed.

“Please note that all in-school volunteers are subject to ISLA's Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, which can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sqo4l_HMZkzxIQFOIzOBtNVQR584gmQU/view?usp=drivesdk. This policy generally requires in-school volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to a few limited exceptions enumerated in the policy. If you have questions about this policy, please contact ISLA's COVID coordinator Tanya Nelson at tnelson@isla.school."

Sunday, October 3: Back to School Gathering - plan to join the ISLA community as we kick-off a great year.

Sunday, October 3: Back to School Gathering - plan to join the ISLA community as we kick-off a great year.

October 12, 6:30-8:00:

Log in, via Zoom, to join the PTO Community Meeting and hear about what is planned for the year.

October 29 - Please save the date and look for more information to follow regarding ISLA's Dia De Los Muertos Event!

Please note, this event is subject to any COVID restrictions or changes.

Watch for Extracurricular activity information early next week.

Schedule changes for next week - Thursday, September 24th is early release. Buses will run 3 hours earlier than normal. Friday, September 25th - Professional Development. No school for students. Reminder will be sent early next week.