Return to Learn Planning

The Iowa Department of Education last Friday put out its guidance on the required “Return to Learn” plans for the next school year.

The governor added a caveat to waiving the school start date as part of the Return to Learn plan.  Any days added before August 23 must be in excess of 1080 hours.  That limits some of the potential planning of “catch-up/enrichment weeks” embedded between quarters.  Our school district calendar does exceed the minimum of 1080 hours, so we have the option of starting between August 17 and August 24.

There is one required pathway and two optional delivery methods in the state guidelines.  The required plan is Required Continuous Learning.  Our district is currently implementing this to finish this school year.  However, I believe we will have to increase the learning outcomes to match the delivery of being in session.

The first optional is a hybrid model, a combination of online learning and face to face.  This model is being offered if districts want to limit the number of students physically in the building at one time and have the rest of the students join online.  This model would rotate students between the two learning models.

The second optional delivery is a return to face to face learning.  Factors that we would have to consider be procedures to implement CDC health guidelines.  Examples are sanitation procedures, expectations of wearing masks, practices of social distancing in schools, etc.

There is a strong possibility that our district creates plans for all three models.  It is tough to predict what challenges we will face the next academic year.  I think we need to prepare for every anticipated situation.

The Return to Learn plan is due to the state by July 1.

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