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Cedar Rapids Community School District release finalized Return to Learn plan

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- With the start of the school year just around the corner, the Cedar Rapids Community School District rolled out it's finalized 'Return To Learn' Plan for teachers, students, and their families today.

The 10-page plan is based on three priorities, safety, providing options, and flexibility as conditions may continue to change. It's also accompanied by a 20-page FAQ document for parents for topics such as safety and technology access.

Families with elementary school children have two options, in-person learning, and a 'short term' virtual option.

Meanwhile, Middle and High School students have three options, in-person schooling, a short term virtual option, or a permanent Virtual Academy choice.

Each model relies heavily on 'cohorts', grouping students together who will have one teacher as their main homeroom facilitator.

According to the plan, each grade level is striving to have a 20:1 teacher, student ratio and the homeroom teacher will help facilitate other learning for various subjects, especially for middle and high school.

Deputy Superintendent, Nicole Kookier said the high school plan has shifted the most in recent weeks to reduce the exposure between students.

"So the purpose is to try to keep that student to staff ratio as low as we possibly can, so there's only so many contact points. So if they have to go back and do contact tracing or somebody does get COVID, it's a small population that would have to transition, hopefully seamlessly to the virtual environment for that two week time period," said Kooiker.

The high school in-person option will also require some online learning, working off of an A/B block schedule, to keep the number of students in the building reduced.

Teachers for the in-person option for elementary and middle school will only teach students physically in their classroom unless an outbreak occurs.

"In elementary and middle school, the teachers will either be fully the virtual instruction teachers or they'll be in-person. Again, unless there's a transition if something happens in a classroom and we have to remove that class for a period of time, or a wing, or a building. At the high school those teachers will be doing both but not at the same time," said Kooiker.

The district was approved to provide a Virtual Academy option this year. Kookier said this program was already in the works before the pandemic.

Masks and shields will be required for teachers and staff opting for the in-person instruction option.

Devices such as chrome books will be provided for students. Hotspots are also available for families who need them.

For a list of Return to Learn plans from eastern Iowa school districts, click here.

You can read the full plan from Cedar Rapids Schools here:

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Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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