IOWA DERECHO 2020

Cedar Rapids schools to start Sept. 21, with middle, high school online

Elementary students to return to the return-to-learn option they chose earlier this month

Cleanup from water damage is underway at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. The
Cleanup from water damage is underway at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. The school has water damage from multiple holes in the roof. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Community School District announced its first day of school Sept. 21 — with middle and high school students starting the year online — after receiving a waiver from the Department of Education that allowed them to maintain the current last day of school date of June 1, 2021.

Under the new start date, elementary students would be able to start in the return-to-learn option chosen by their families earlier this month. Students will either start in the online or hybrid learning model that they chose.

Middle and high school students, however, will start in online learning, even if they chose the hybrid learning model, with the exception of Metro High School, which will have an in-person instruction option.

The late start date for the first day of school is caused by the derecho storm that swept through Iowa on Aug. 10, damaging over 30 buildings in the school district.

In an email to families late Wednesday, Superintendent Noreen Bush said 18 buildings are safe for elementary students to return to in-person learning. The remaining buildings will be phased in for in-person learning as they become approved for re-entry throughout the first semester.

Last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a new proclamation that school districts that suffered damage during the storm that caused hurricane-force winds would be allowed to start the school year primarily with online instruction if the Iowa Department of Education approves, and could apply for a waiver of required instructional time.

Cedar Rapids school buildings need to be physically accessible and safe at least at 75 percent capacity to be used for in-person instruction, Bush said in an email.

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The following buildings will be at 75 percent capacity by the Sept. 21 start date for students to return. Middle school buildings listed will be used for elementary students and internet hub stations: Arthur, Coolidge, Erskine, Grant Wood, Harrison, Jackson, Johnson STEAM Academy, Cedar River Academy at Taylor, Madison, Viola Gibson, Van Buren, Wright, Cleveland, Hiawatha, Truman, Harding Middle School (houses Nixon and Kenwood Leadership Academy), Roosevelt/RCCBA Middle School (houses Hoover and Pierce), Wilson Middle School (houses Grant and Garfield, home-school and CRVA), Metro High School, Polk Alternative, ELSC (district office).

The following buildings could be at 75 percent capacity by Nov. 16: Garfield, Hoover, Nixon, Grant, Pierce, Kenwood Leadership Academy.

The following buildings could be at 75 percent capacity by Jan. 1, 2021: Franklin, McKinley STEAM Academy, Taft, Jefferson, Kennedy, Washington.

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

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