Iowa school districts face a July 1st deadline for submitting “Return to Learn” plans to the state.
Districts must describe how they’ll help students catch up and advance once school resumes in the fall. Algona Superintendent Joe Carter says districts must have a plan for classroom instruction, for distancing learning and for a hybrid of the two.
“We don’t know what August will be like at this time,” Carter says, “but we want to have plans in place so we’re best prepared for all of those things.”
Carter’s district has been collecting data about distance learning during the closing weeks of this school year.
“We want to see: What are we able to effectively do? What aren’t we able to effectively do? What’s that look like? And use this really as an opportunity to build upon for that continual learning plan,” he says.
Carter and his staff have determined 10 percent of students in the Algona district do not have reliable internet access.
“Sixty percent of our households still had two parents going every day to work,” Carter says. “If there’s a young child involved in at-home education, there’s certainly a dynamic there that is difficult.”
Every district must get state approval of its plan for “continuous learning” in an emergency, like a COVID-19 outbreak, when students cannot gather in a school building. Attendance must be taken and grades handed out in that scenario, according to an Iowa Department of Education document. Schools this past spring were allowed to conduct voluntary distance learning.
(By Brian Wilson, KLGA, Algona)