Holiday giving opportunity

Central Rivers AEA staff will have the opportunity to support our Youth Shelter classroom staff and students this holiday season. 

Our goal is to collect $1,000 by December 13 to purchase holiday stockings filled with goodies for each student and a special catered holiday meal at each location (Four Oaks, Woodhaven & Francis Lauer Youth Shelters). Any excess funds will be used to purchase classroom games, books, supplies and personal items. 

Central Rivers AEA provides temporary educational services to students in our three youth shelter programs:

  1. Four Oaks in Independence
  2. Francis Lauer Youth Shelter (FLYS) in Mason City
  3. Woodhaven in Waverly

Supporting up to 26 students ages 11-18 that live on-site, the children often come to us with nothing but the clothes on their backs and from tough situations including:

  • rescued from human trafficking
  • removal from an abusive situation by DHS
  • awaiting a court date for a criminal charge
  • awaiting a foster care placement

Please consider spreading a little more cheer and help make the holidays brighter for the children! Donate through a ”GoFundMe” account or you can send monetary donations to Barb Schroeder, 1521 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls, IA. 

Contact Sarah Nelson, Director of IT/Special Programs, Barb Schroeder, Administrative Assistant, or Robin Billerbeck, HR Specialist with any questions.

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Celebrating YOU during American Education Week

American Education Week is a great time to celebrate the amazing work that each and every one of you do for the children, families, and educators that our agency serves. Simply put, you make a tremendous positive difference! Take time during American Education Week to reflect on your many contributions…and thank you!

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IT Department to run fake phishing email experiment over the next month

As we shared in the October edition of The Channel, statistically, phishing emails are the leading cause of data privacy incidents. Phishing is a type of social engineering where an attacker sends a fraudulent message designed to trick a human victim into revealing sensitive information to the attacker or to deploy malicious software.

Over the course of the next month, the Information Technology (IT) department will send out “fake” emails to staff in an attempt to collect data on what specific phishing emails trip staff up the most so that we can develop future training. Rest assured that while we hope staff are not “tricked” by the fake phishing emails, there will be no real consequence if staff do respond to them.

Please take a minute to review the message and search for any of the five common red flags shown below:

  1. Message is unexpected or oddly timed
  2. Message contains odd spelling or grammatical errors
  3. Message urges actions like clicking links or opening attachments
  4. Message appears to be time sensitive or threatens consequences for inaction
  5. Message is requesting money or personal information

When you receive any suspicious communications: Stop and think before you click!  

If you suspect a phishing email, please contact the Help Desk at 319-273-8231 or  Questions? Contact Sarah Nelson, Director of IT/Special Programs.

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Coffee with the Chief

Plan now to join Chief Administrator Sam Miller on Friday, December 10, at 8:00 am for a virtual update on agency events and current trends in K-12 education. 

So grab a cup of coffee or your favorite morning beverage and get any questions you might have answered or use the time to express your thoughts & concerns. 



  • Meeting ID: 891 3764 4516
  • One tap mobile  +13126266799,,89137644516# 
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Weather notification system

With winter almost here, be sure you are signed up to receive Central Rivers AEA weather alerts via text, call, or email regarding office closings or professional learning cancellations. Staff members can contact Shirley Horak, Human Resources Coordinator for assistance on signing up.

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Change your voicemail/email message for the holiday breaks

Don’t forget to change your voicemail greeting and schedule an “away” message to your email during both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breaks so that callers and/or e-mailers will know when they can expect to hear from you.


Voicemail example:

“Hello, this is (your name). Our office will be closed beginning Thursday, November 25 and will reopen on Monday, November 29. Please leave your name, telephone number and a brief message and I will return your call on the 29th.  Thank you and happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Central Rivers AEA.”

Email “away” message example:

Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office beginning Thursday, November 25 and will respond to your email upon my return on Monday, the 29th. Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

*Please note the office closure dates for the Christmas holiday break are Friday, December 24 – January 2, 2022. Offices will reopen on Monday, January 3.  

If you need assistance with either task, please contact the Help Desk at or 319-273-8231.

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Latest guidance from the CDC on COVID exposure

The agency continues to monitor our COVID infection rates and the CDC for revised guidelines.  Currently, cases related to COVID (i.e., infection or exposure) in our staff are very limited (1-2% of staff).  While the low incident rates are positive, we want to share the latest CDC guidance.  Also, we would like to remind staff to remain diligent in their efforts to mitigate risk as they deem appropriate and necessary. 

General guidance:

Anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID should quarantine for 14 days after their last exposure to that person, except if they meet the following conditions:

Someone who has been fully vaccinated and shows no symptoms of COVID does not need to quarantine. However, fully vaccinated close contacts should:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until a negative test result.
  • Get tested 5-7 days after close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Get tested and isolate immediately if experiencing COVID symptoms.

Someone who tested positive for COVID with a viral test within the previous 90 days and has subsequently recovered and remains without COVID symptoms does not need to quarantine. However, close contacts with prior COVID infection in the previous 90 days should:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days after exposure.
  • Monitor for COVID symptoms and isolate immediately if symptoms develop.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional for testing recommendations if new symptoms develop.

If you have any COVID related questions, please feel free to contact HR, so we can provide the appropriate guidance.

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Save the date for the 2022 all-staff meeting

save the date word in rectangles backgroundThe 2022 all-staff meeting will take place on August 17, 2022. Details about the day, including the keynote speaker, will be shared in a future edition of The Channel. For now, please reserve this date on your calendar.

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Required Digital Accessibility training module reminder

The digital accessibility training is required for all staff and must be completed by December 1, 2021. Complete details and instructions can be found in September’s issue of The Channel.  If you have any questions or need technical assistance, please contact the Help Desk at 319-273-8231 or

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