On Friday, July 17, Governor Reynolds signed a proclamation and the Iowa Department of Education (DE) issued new guidance that directly related to how school districts must return to school in the fall. Both the proclamation and Senate File 2310 state that in-person instruction is the presumed method of instruction for the upcoming school year.
Here are the delivery model definitions currently in our Return to Learn plan:
- On-Site Delivery – A full return of students and staff to school buildings. This delivery model will be done in buildings with face to face delivery of instruction for all students given application of mitigation steps described in the plan.
- Required Continuous Learning – This delivery model will be done via remote learning, either online or packet-based, in the event that schools remain closed due to the pandemic. Opportunities to interact with staff and students would occur virtually.
- Hybrid 1 Learning (state-mandated) – This delivery model will be done by alternating students between on-site and remote learning. Using appropriate mitigation steps while on-site, most students will attend school 2 days per week and engage in remote learning each week on other days. This model would be used if the state-mandated that schools operate at 50% capacity, for example.
- Hybrid 2 Learning (family choice) – This delivery model will closely mirror the on-site model for most students. However, some families may choose to have children remain in a required continuous learning model for personal safety reasons.
Below is how the new guidance impacts each of those delivery models:
Required Continuous Learning – The new guidance prohibits school districts from providing instruction primarily through remote learning without explicit authorization by the governor, but does allow for parents or guardians to voluntarily select required continuous learning as a delivery model. As of today, the district will now be required to complete an approval process for any and all online courses. We have yet to receive guidance on what this process will entail. At this point, this means that district-wide online learning is not an option that our District can select.
Hybrid 1 – The new guidance dictates that districts must deliver core subject matter (English, math, social studies, and science) in a face-to-face delivery model. Additionally, 50% of student instruction must be delivered in an on-site, face-to-face delivery model. How these two pieces of guidance impact our proposed Hybrid 1 is yet to be determined with more guidance coming next week. What we do know is that our current delivery model for Hybrid 1 must be modified in order to meet these new requirements.
On-Site Delivery – This delivery model is the assumed default delivery model and the preferred method of instructional delivery by the Governor’s proclamation and Department of Education guidance.
Hybrid 2 – This guidance is clear that parents or guardians may voluntarily select required continuous learning as a delivery model.
Metrics / Ability to Close Temporarily – The new guidance also states that school districts do not have the authority to immediately close a classroom, wing, or building in the event of a COVID outbreak and move to online learning. Districts must seek approval from the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, to temporarily move a classroom or an entire building into an online delivery model. As a District, this is a troublesome requirement and one that works in conflict with the work around developing a metric for decision-making with Story County school districts, Mary Greeley, and Story County Public Health.
We know that there will be many questions about how this new guidance impacts the beginning of school. As a District, we are still awaiting clarity from the Department of Education. They are scheduled to hold a webinar on Monday, July 20 and our hope is that they will provide additional guidance for our many questions at that time.
We are committed to providing our parents with the most up-to-date information as we continue to develop our plans around Return to Learn. As we have continued to see, these plans are fluid and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our parents and community.