Iowa City School District petitions state to move classes online for two weeks

Interim Superintendent Matt Degner told faculty and staff in the district about the pending request in an email on Monday afternoon.

Iowa+City+Community+School+District+sign+1725+North+Dodge+St..+As+seen+on+Thursday%2COct.15%2C2020.

Jeff Sigmund

Iowa City Community School District sign 1725 North Dodge St.. As seen on Thursday,Oct.15,2020.

Natalie Dunlap, News Reporter


Standard enrollment students in the Iowa City community schools have been back in physical classrooms for six weeks. With COVID-19 positivity rates on the rise, they might be temporarily returning to online learning. 

On Nov. 7, the Iowa City Community School District petitioned the state for permission to move all classes off-site for two weeks. 

Interim Superintendent Matt Degner shared this information with families and faculty in the district on Monday afternoon. 

He said in his email that the decision was made, “based on a 14-day positivity rate of 13.3 percent as of Saturday, Nov. 7, and support from both Johnson County Public Health and our School Board.” 

As of Monday afternoon, the district hasn’t heard back from Iowa’s Department of Education. Degner said the board of directors will cover developments of the pending request and the district’s next steps in tomorrow’s board meeting, at 5pm on Nov. 10. 

“At this time, no decision has been made to transition to 100 percent off-site learning.  The options will be reviewed and discussed during the Board Meeting before an official decision is made,” Degner said.

Iowa City students are in either standard enrollment or the PK-12 Online Learning Program. For the first two weeks of school all students were taking classes online every day. Since Sept. 28, standard enrollment students have been operating in a hybrid format, attending school on ‘A’ or ‘B’ days, depending on their group assignment. 

Nov. 4 was the deadline for students and families to choose their enrollment type for the second school trimester, which begins on Dec. 8. Kristin Pedersen, the district’s director of community relations, said if the district does temporarily move online, it won’t impact the student’s enrollment. 

“This is technically still the same two options… Standard enrollment includes whatever learning model on that continuum of learning models that we may be in a different time,” Pedersen said. “So that continuum of learning models includes 100 percent off site, a hybrid learning model and 100 percent on site, so it’s anywhere on that scale. And we were in the hybrid learning model, but you know if we were to transition to 100% online, that would still be considered the standard enrollment option.”

Pedersen also told The Daily Iowan that grab-and-go meals will be available to students if classes are all online. 

According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of 3pm on Nov. 8, 40 students and 14 staff members currently have confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Additionally, there are currently 55 students and 6 staff with presumed positive cases. Currently 2.49 percent of students and 2.80 percent of staff are quarantined due to exposure to the virus.  

“The health of our school district community remains the primary focus in our decision-making,” Degner said in the message. “We will continue to be transparent throughout this process and communicate with you as soon as we have additional information.  Please continue to utilize the safety measures that have been proven to work including wearing a mask, staying socially distanced, and practicing proper hand washing/hand sanitizing.”  

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