West Des Moines school employee dies of coronavirus

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds laid out guidance for how public health officials will respond when students or school staff suspect they might have the coronavirus.

Des Moines Register

A special-education assistant at Indian Hills Junior High School in West Des Moines has died from complications of COVID-19.

The district announced Jennifer Crawford’s death in an email Monday. She was 53. 

“I am deeply saddened to share with you that our friend and classroom assistant, Jennifer Crawford, died today from complications of COVID-19,” Indian Hills Junior High School Principal Dr. Shane Christensen wrote.

West Des Moines Community School District spokesperson Laine Mendenhall-Buck said it was unclear when or how Crawford contracted the virus. She said Crawford had not been at work for several weeks.

“Due to community spread we cannot confirm how it was contracted,” Mendenhall-Buck said via email Monday night. “She was out of state when she fell ill.”

Mendenhall-Buck said in a statement Tuesday that Crawford had worked at Indian Hills since 2017 and has two children who graduated from West Des Moines Community Schools. She said the district will be sharing funeral information to Indian Hills staff and families once arrangements have been made. 

School board president Liz Cox said the board does not plan to have a conversation about transitioning to a different learning model following Crawford’s death. West Des Moines’ current return to learn plan allowed families to choose between either online or on-site learning at the beginning of the year.

Cox said her thoughts and prayers are with Crawford’s family. 

“The Board of Education shares in the sorrow when a student, staff, or parent dies; it is deeply felt throughout our district and community,” she said in an email.

To support those grieving, Cox said Indian Hills had two counselors and a representative from


University of Michigan seeks restraining order to end graduate employee strike

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ANN ARBOR, MI – As the University of Michigan Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) voted to extend its strike for “a safe and just campus” for an additional five days, the university is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the union strike.

UM is asking the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to order striking members of the GEO to return to work. The union represents about 2,000 graduate student instructors and graduate student staff assistants.

In the court filing, UM noted that, “Not only are GEO’s members interfering in the university’s mission to educate students by unlawfully withholding their labor, they are encouraging impressionable undergraduate students, over whom they exercise significant authority, to forego their education.”

The strike began Tuesday, Sept. 8, as graduate students marched and chanted at five different locations on UM’s campus. It has gained the support of undergraduate students; graduate student organizations from other colleges, such as Harvard and Western Michigan University; and even some construction workers on UM’s campus who picketed with them in solidarity.

UM has since submitted an offer to GEO, but that offer was rejected.

In a news release, Schlissel said UM can no longer allow the “profound disruption to the education we’ve promised our undergraduate students” in authorizing the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

“We want our great classes to continue, our students to learn without interference and we don’t want anyone to feel threatened simply for wanting to go to class,” said Schlissel in a video to the campus community. “Going to the court was our only choice after learning the strike would continue. We’d much rather our classes be in session while we work out our differences.”

In the release, Schlissel said UM welcomes the opportunity to discuss the issues GEO has raised and noted the university’s