Education

Iowa City schools appointing Director of PK-12 Online Learning pending board approval

West High School principal to be considered as online learning director; school board to vote Tuesday on hybrid return to learn plan

IOWA CITY — After almost half of students in the Iowa City Community School District registered for online learning, the district will appoint a director of PK-12 online learning.

The school board will vote Tuesday to appoint West High School Principal Dr. Gregg Shoultz as director of online learning after 5,000 students registered for the program.

“We’ve got to staff all those classes with teachers, make sure teachers have the right supports to teach online and train the students to be online students. Being a full-time online student has different responsibilities,” Shoultz said.

About 69 percent of Iowa City students have registered for the 2020-21 academic year, which includes choosing the hybrid learning or virtual learning model. The deadline for registration is Wednesday.

Iowa City’s online learning program will serve more students than those in 94 percent of school districts across Iowa, interim Superintendent Matt Degner said in an email to families Monday.

Creating an online learning program is “pretty daunting,” Shoultz said.

He said all 14,200 students’ classes will have to be rescheduled to fit with either the hybrid or online learning model. “What we generally take about three months to do we’re going to do in about 10 days,” Shoultz said.

He said the district learned a lot from the online learning “trial run” in the spring when schools closed for the coronavirus in mid-March.

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Teachers have spent the summer designing course curricula for online learning.

“I know the demand (for online learning) is high, the concern in the community is real, and we’re ready to facilitate learning through our online program,” Shoultz said.

Shoultz has worked with the Iowa City district for 20 years, first as principal at Northwest Junior High School and now as principal at West High School.

He will begin as director of online learning Wednesday, pending board approval.

Northwest Junior High School Principal Mitch Gross will transition to interim principal of West High School, pending board approval.

The district is evaluating options to fill Gross’s position at Northwest Junior High.

Earlier this month, the school board voted to delay the first day of school two weeks until Sept. 8, to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The school board will vote on the district’s hybrid return to learn model Tuesday, after the Department of Education denied its request to begin the school year with an off-site learning model.

While the school board has not made a decision on the in-person model, it offered a hybrid option.

Students would be divided into “A” and “B” days. “A” groups would meet Mondays and Tuesdays and “B” groups would meet Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would alternate between “A” and “B.”

Remote instruction would take place when students are not on campus for in-person class.

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

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