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Iowa City school board votes for no in-person schooling to start year

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Board members in the Iowa City Community School District voted Tuesday to start their school year completely off-site, to avoid spreading COVID-19 among staff and students.

"After close communication and collaboration with Johnson County Public Health...and considering input of parents and community members, our administrative recommendation is we begin the 2020-21 school year in an off-site learning environment," Interim Superintendent Matt Degner said to the board Tuesday night.

The school district says it will be able to provide all required courses to its students and will be starting a new online learning hub called the ICCSD PK-12 Online Learning Program. Families have to opt-in to the program but it will contain required online learning opportunities.

Some board members were concerned about students staying engaged throughout off-site learning, though.

"I'm really concerned that kids are going to be left behind," board member Paul Roesler said.

ICCSD was choosing between five different learning models; four hybrid or online models debuted in June, and a fifth fully in-person model.

Many board members got emotional, discussing their desire to have students return to campuses but just not feeling comfortable with it.

"We can do this, it's not insurmountable. But we have such a failure of leadership, I don't feel we have much of a choice," board member Lisa Williams said, expressing her displeasure with Governor Kim Reynolds not instituting a statewide mask requirement or closing bars.

The district left the door open to bringing students back later in the school year, just not right away.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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