IOWA DERECHO 2020

Cedar Rapids will delay school start, though date uncertain

20 school buildings damaged in Cedar Rapids; Solon also may delay school start

The Cedar Rapids and Solon community school districts are among those in the Corridor looking to start school later than planned as they cope with damage and outages after Monday’s storm.

“At this point, we know we will be delaying the start of the school year ... for how long is yet to be determined,” Cedar Rapids Superintendent Noreen Bush wrote Wednesday in a message.

“We have major tree damage at all buildings. We have major roof damage at 16 buildings, minor roof damage at 12 buildings, and puncture damage and hood damage at the other 6,” she wrote. “There is significant water and structural damage in many buildings that had major roof damage. We have no power and district internet service is down, which complicates all recovery efforts.”

On Twitter, Kennedy High School Principal Jason Kline shared photos of storm damage inside the school — holes in the roof, scattered ceiling tiles — inside classrooms, the gym and a performing arts area.

Others may delay

The Solon district said it would delay its first day of school by one week if power is not restored by Friday.

Superintendent Davis Eidahl said that while there is minimal damage to school buildings, the power outage, no internet and spotty phone service has hampered the district’s ability to prepare for a school year with the coronavirus.

The district may delay the start from Aug. 24 to Aug. 31, he said.

“Every principal had multiple webinars scheduled with parents, and a tight schedule leading up to the first day of school,” Eidahl said. “We’ve had to cancel some of these webinars where we can better inform parents and students on what the first day and first week (of school) will look like and answer questions to relieve some anxiety.”

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Delaying the school year a week for weather-related reasons does not need to be approved by the school board, Eidahl said, “but the board is fully on board.”

Linn-Mar Community Schools also is considering a delay, according to a statement from Superintendent Shannon Bisgard, as the district assesses the damage.

More information will be available following a school board meeting Monday, officials said.

E-registration down in Iowa City

Iowa City schools are up against a deadline that power outages are making difficult.

Parents and students have until Sunday to complete online registration and choose between online or in-person classes. But the internet website is down. So far, 63 percent of families have registered as of Wednesday afternoon.

A school board meeting scheduled for Tuesday was delayed to next Tuesday. The board is expected to make more decisions on its hybrid return-to-learn model that combines in-person and online classes.

Many families may be waiting to register until those decisions are made, District Communications Director Pederson said.

Last month, the school board delayed the first day of school from Aug. 24 to Sept. 8 to lessen coronavirus exposure as University of Iowa students return to campus.

Even with that delay, the district is “up against a wall with staffing,” Pederson said.

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College Community ‘hit hard’

Programming at the College Community School District has been canceled this week.

“Our community was hit hard,” Communications Director Steve Doser said. “A lot of our teachers and Prairie families were impacted greatly. Many remain without power, so until that is up and running, it’s going to be a challenge for everybody.”

New teacher orientation has been postponed.

“You have the challenges of COVID-19 and return-to-learn, then you have devastation caused by this storm,” he said.

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

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