CORONAVIRUS

Cedar Rapids district considers one-week delay for first day of school

A main hallway is seen empty at Cleveland Elementary School in Cedar Rapids on Friday, July 17, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The G
A main hallway is seen empty at Cleveland Elementary School in Cedar Rapids on Friday, July 17, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Community School District is considering delaying the first day of school one week to Aug. 31.

The school board will vote during its board meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. whether to delay the first day of school from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31.

If the board approves delaying the start date, it will not affect the return-to-learn choice that families have made for their children.

“We recognize that a one-week delay is an imposition on families ... we know this is a challenge,” Superintendent Noreen Bush said in an email to families Thursday. “Thank you, in advance, for your patience and grace during this historic time.”

The delayed start date also would not “significantly” impact the overall school calendar for the 2020-21 school year, Bush said.

Moving the start date would give additional time for the district to respond to the “ever-changing” state guidance from Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Department of Education and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

This past week, families in the Cedar Rapids district made the return-to-learn decision for their student between attending in-person learning or virtual learning.

Thirty-five percent of families chose one of two virtual learning options, which requires more time for teachers to be relocated and prepare for an online classroom.

Sixty-five percent of families chose in-person learning for their students.

The district also has seen increased resignations this past week from transportation staff and paraeducators. There is an anticipated shortage of substitute teachers, and the district is working to hire permanent building substitutes.

The district serves about 16,000 students and has almost 3,000 employees.

Last week, the district announced its final return-to-learn plan, which requires students and staff to wear face masks or shields provided by the district while at school.

The district hopes to keep teacher-to-student ratios approximately 20-to-1 for elementary, middle and high school students.

Elementary students will be assigned a homeroom teacher and be kept within the same cohort to minimize physical contact with others.

Middle school students will be assigned an advisory teacher, and the advisory group will remain the same throughout the year to limit contact.

High school students will return to learn in a hybrid model of in-person and online instruction. Students will attend class in the building for two to three days a week and attend online instruction the other two to three days a week.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

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