DES MOINES, Iowa -- The last day of school is exciting for everyone, but the Des Moines Public School District said the summer is almost as busy as the school year between programs, summer school, sports camps and even preparation for next year.
“We will literally have thousands of students in and out of our schools at any given day. That includes things such as our summer meal program, which kicks off June 5 at 31 different locations around the city. We have a summer camp program that’s offered at our middle schools through a program that’s called the 21st Century Learning Community. We have a wide range of sports camps that are offered through our community education department,” Director of Communications for DMPS Phil Roeder said.
The free lunch program is not new to the district, but it has added even more schools this year.
“This year we are up to 31 locations. Most of those are at schools around the city, but we also partner with some of the YMCA locations as well to provide meals. Most of those sites actually offer lunch as well as a breakfast and in fact, last summer we served almost 150,000 breakfasts and lunches over the course of the summer program,” Roeder said.
Roeder said this program is important for kids who rely on school lunch or breakfast.
“Poverty is a very real issue. And nutrition and having access to good food and meals goes hand in hand with that. So this is very helpful for students nutrition and health and well being during the summer and to provide a service to meet a need during the summer that we do in our schools each and every day during the school year as well,” Roeder said.
The summer is also a good time to prepare for the next year and get required vaccines and physicals taken care of.
“There’s a new state requirement for all students in Iowa that are either going into 7th grade or 12th grade starting this August and that’s to make sure they have a meningitis vaccine. So basically the rule is if you don’t have this vaccine you cannot go to school,” Roeder said.
Medical Director of Iowa Department of Public Health Patricia Quinlisk said meningococcal disease is very serious and can result in death or loss of limbs.
“Well this disease in that the people at highest risk are young adults and often young adults who live in close quarters. So a lot of college campuses have required this for years because obviously you go off to college, live in dormitories or fraternities, sororities, your risk for getting this disease goes up. Also the military has required it for a long time,” Quinlisk said.
Quinlisk said lawmakers made the decision to require this vaccine earlier because even kids in high school can get the disease due to being in close quarters daily.
Symptoms can start off with a fever and headache and then get more serious very quickly.
To get the vaccine you can call your healthcare provider or contact the Iowa Department of Public Health.