CORONAVIRUS

Some Iowa schools could require students to finish classes remotely through coronavirus closures

Iowa Department of Education to take applications from districts seeking to mandate 'continuous learning'

Desks and chairs fill a classroom at Liberty High School in North Liberty on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.  (The Gazette)
Desks and chairs fill a classroom at Liberty High School in North Liberty on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (The Gazette)
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Students enrolled in K-12 schools in Iowa could be required to continue their schoolwork remotely if their district receives permission from the state, according to Iowa Department of Education guidance published Friday.

Districts will be able to request permission to mandate student participation in continuous learning services — through online, physical pickup and drop-off, telephonic or other delivery methods — starting in April.

“As we’ve heard from schools and parents, we know there is growing demand for distance and online education so that students continue to learn while schools are closed during this emergency,” department spokeswoman Staci Hupp said.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has recommended Iowa schools stay closed until at least April 13, and has said she will reassess schools’ timelines.

Six states — Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia and Vermont — have closed schools for the rest of the academic year.

The new guidance for Iowa schools says any public or private school can participate in “an expedited process” to receive permission to start providing required educational services. Schools will be allowed to grade and award credit for work students complete remotely.

Districts have been able to provide students voluntary “enrichment opportunities” already, without department permission. But they are not allowed to grade or award credit for work that wasn’t mandated for all students.

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Required educational services will have to make learning accessible to all students, and students’ individual education program, or IEP, teams would have to reconvene.

“Our guidance recognizes that schools face different circumstances in meeting that demand and offers a menu of options based on their needs,” Hupp said. “We know schools are doing their best to meet the needs of their students, including students with special needs, whether that’s through teleconferencing, delivery of paper packets or other means.”

Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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