Registration open for Iowa City Community School District’s new school: ICCSD Online

Parents can now start on enrolling their children in ICCSD’s virtual classroom experience for the 2021 – 2022 academic year.


Jake Maish

A sign for the Iowa City Community School District is seen outside the district’s administration building on Tuesday, April 28.

Grace Hamilton, News Reporter

Registration opened on Monday for parents to enroll their children in ICCSD Online, the Iowa City Community School District’s permanent virtual program.

Director of PK-12 Online Learning Gregg Shoultz wrote in a district-wide email sent on March 23 that ICCSD Online registration would begin April 5 and the April enrollment period ends on April 12.

A second registration opportunity is scheduled for June, allowing parents to change their enrollment decision up to July 1, according to the email.

Because of uncertainties surrounding the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for children, the district also plans on allowing parents to change their enrollment decision at the end of the first trimester of the 2021 school year.

According to the district’s PK-12 Online Learning Program page, ICCSD Online provides students with a curriculum consistent with the Iowa Core Curriculum standards. The virtual school will also offer honors and AP courses.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, ICCSD’s efforts to create a fully online curriculum started as early as 2018 but were sidelined by budget limitations. After COVID-19 forced classes online, ICCSD was one of few districts in the state to develop their own online course curriculum, made possible by their preliminary plans to offer online schooling.

In October 2020, the state approved the district’s plans to begin offering a permanent online learning program.

Shoultz said in an interview with the DI that he anticipates most students currently learning online will transition on-site for the 2021-22 school year, adding that he estimates anywhere between 5-10 percent of current ICCSD students will enroll in the permanent online program.

“There is a smaller percentage of students who really struggle with social anxiety and with the social aspects of being in a room with 30 other kids while they’re trying to learn,” Shoultz said. “But that’s not the only reason. For years, we have had students who have left our district even though they live here because they’re doing other activities that don’t allow them to go to school full time. Or, they’ve been receiving treatments at the hospital, and they have to do a different way of learning.”

As the district spends the coming weeks determining a more accurate projection of how many students will enroll in ICCSD Online, Shoultz said hiring would be posted to teachers internally so they can apply for a virtual position.

“We hire 70 to 150 teachers a year based on turnover with teachers leaving and retiring, and that sort of thing. So, part of the calculation will be the change to online learning,” Shoultz said. “We’re adding about 30 kids from outside the district for online learning for next year, so that’s not a huge driver for hiring new teachers.”

Although it is possible that some K-8 teachers will teach both virtually and on-site, Schoultz said he anticipates more high school teachers will take up roles for ICCSD Online while also teaching in-person, since high schools in the district offer more programs than other grade levels.

ICCSD Online will be staffed with its own principal, counselor, and secretary to launch its inaugural year, he added.

RELATED: Iowa City schools plan to keep virtual option available for students after pandemic ends

While some district parents are certain virtual learning is suitable for their children, others continue to contemplate whether ICCSD Online is a proper fit.

Ulrike Carlson, a parent to two children in the Iowa City district, said she’s spent time considering whether ICCSD Online would be a good fit for her 14-year-old daughter.

“My older child felt that with online learning they were more able to take charge of the learning process and organize their schedule more flexibly,” Carlson said. “Ultimately, the lack of daily social interaction and the lack of variety with regard to art classes made us decide against the online option for the future.”

Although Carlson and her daughter decided not to enroll in ICCSD’s online learning model, Carlson said she understands why the program would appeal to district parents.

“I think the online model can be beneficial for students who enjoy and can handle a schedule that is somewhat more open and self-directed,” Ulrike said “… In any case, students and teachers have to work together to establish some more ground rules for successful online interaction for the online model to become a truly feasible and equitable option for all.”