Return-to-Learn Update (7/15/20)
Last night, the Iowa City Community School District’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to begin the 2020/21 school year in an off-site remote learning environment. The vote came following the 7/14/20 presentation and recommendation to the Board that was made by the Return-to-Learn leadership team.
We understand that stakeholders in our school community will have varying reactions to this decision; however, with the current status of the pandemic in Johnson County, we do not feel that it is safe to bring our students and staff back to campus at this time. Our schools are a cornerstone of the community and we recognize that the decisions we make impact many aspects of our municipalities and our economy, which is why this decision was not made lightly.
We also recognize there is real fear, stress, and anxiety related to the pandemic. These are valid concerns radiating through our community and reverberating around the world. As leaders, we have to be committed to doing what is right even when it is not always easy. Flexibility, grace, and patience will be key elements as we begin learning on August 24. While we will start school in an off-site model, our approach includes a continuum of learning models. Learning in the District will flow flexibly based on the situation COVID-19 presents and the best interests of our students, staff, families, and community. It is disheartening that the year will not begin with students in our schools, but health and safety continue to dictate that we begin with off-site learning, with the goal of bringing students back on-site when conditions allow for this to safely happen. While we know that online learning is not the same as students in our classrooms with our teachers and staff, we are confident in our team’s ability to rise to the challenge and provide an engaging and meaningful experience. In the spring, you saw the District turn quickly and provide emergency learning, this fall you will see true online learning.
As a district, we have been preparing for this possibility. The Return-to-Learn Academic Standards team has been working throughout the spring and summer to build schedules, develop an online curriculum, and determine standards and expectations for a successful online learning environment for all students. You can find the anticipated schedules that students would follow for the fall here: Continuous Online Learning Schedules. Additional information around programming offerings, registration, and enrollment will be coming in the next few days.
The District will publish a document that provides potential transition dates to a different instructional model, as well as the criteria that will be utilized in this decision-making process. As part of this process, the District will provide families and staff no less than one week’s notice of any transition. We tentatively plan to have this guidance published prior to school starting on August 24, 2020, and anticipate the document including October 6, 2020, as the first potential date that we would consider for a move to a Hybrid Learning Model. We continue to monitor the situation daily and work closely with local health officials in making these difficult and important decisions.
We want to say thank you to our school district community for the continued commitment and persistence over the last several weeks and months. None of these decisions have been easy or small, and we still have a tremendous amount of work in front of us. The perseverance and spirit through this difficult time have been commendable and inspirational. As a community, this same perseverance and collaborative spirit are what will ensure our students are successful and that we are able to welcome students and staff safely back to campus in the near future. We remain in this together. #ICCSDtogether