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Vinton-Shellsburg prepares three options for students’ return

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VINTON, Iowa (KWWL) -- School districts across the state, large or small, are putting the final touches on their Return-to-Learn plans for the state of Iowa. The Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District is giving parents three options when it comes to learning this year.

"We are actually trying to establish a menu of different options because everybody's in a different place," said Kyle Koeppen, Superintendent of Vinton-Shellsburg CSD.

The options include returning to in-class schooling with safety measures, learning from home remotely by computer or enrolling in the district's homeschooling program. Koeppen said students aren't locked into one option. They are free to adjust as needed as situations change.

"If you start in person, you have the ability to move to virtual or home school when you need to. That's the type of flexibility we're trying to provide. If you're home schooled and want to switch to one of the other options, you may do so at any time," he said.

Students going virtual will be asked to stay virtual for at least the remainder of the grading period, typically nine weeks, due to the complexity of the remote learning program. After that, the student can switch to one of the other options to learn.

Koeppen said for many parents, it's not a cut-and-dry decision.

"We have a lot of families who are still on the fence on which option. Having a menu of options is great, but with uncertain times and maybe not having all the specific details of each option, it does prove challenging," he said.

There are going to be several online and in-person sessions for parents to ask questions about the options to better make a decision.

If the district does have to go back to being fully remote, they are ready to provide students with additional resources like computers and hot spots. In the spring, the district provided hot spots to students without adequate internet access to continue to learn from home. The district opted this summer to not sell off some of the older computer equipment like they normally would so they could have extras on hand.

"We did keep some of our older devices back, so in case we have to deploy those we have them available," he said.

He added the district must remain flexible. If more students start to gravitate to remote learning, teachers who were still teaching in-person courses might have to teach remotely to accommodate the growing demand.

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Collin Dorsey

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