Other schools have developed multiple options, including remote learning or weekly schedules combining online and at-school classes. Sioux Center Community Schools Superintendent Gary McEldowny said after consulting with the governor’s office as well as state and local public health officials, his district is planning for in-person classes.
“The information that we feel like we have at this point, from the last update, is to plan to start school as you normally would,” he said.
The first day of school in Sioux Center is currently scheduled for August 13th, but a full, five-days-a-week schedule won’t start until August 31st. That’s an intentional move, McEldowny said, as he expects people to be worried about going back to school.
“A lot of that anxiety is going to have to bubble up and start to wash off a little bit and that’s for everyone involved — that’s for parents and for kids and for the staff,” McEldowny said. “The first week, that’s a two-day week, then the next week we have four days — Monday through Thursday, and then we have Monday through Thursday the following week.”
The district has developed options for online learning as well as a combination of in-person and online virtual learning.
“We will be a hybrid from the jump because there are going to be families and students and the reality — I shouldn’t say reality, it’s an opinion — we will have children that are going to be out for a while and hopefully able to come back when healthy,” he said. “We’re going to have teachers or staff members that are going to have an impacted family member or themself.”
McEldowny said the challenges of remote learning in the final weeks of the past school year showed the district what they can do better. The district also has surveyed families and students to identify areas of concern.
“We take those things to heart,” McEldowny said, “and the things that we can control, we want to do a better job of controlling.”
In the state’s largest district, Des Moines high schoolers will have one day of in-person instruction per week. Elementary and middle school students in Des Moines will have two days of in-person classes each week. The rest of their instruction is to be conducted online.
(By Mark Buss, KSOU, Sioux Center; Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson also contributed to the story.)