By July 1, school districts across the state of Iowa are required to submit learning plans, as part of their “Return to Learn” plan, to the state. This includes laying out their plans for learning with technology, a hybrid plan and a brick and mortar plan.
Though things have slowed down recently for school districts, Anamosa Superintendent Larry Hunt said predicting exactly what things would look like was tricky.
“We all know that as much as COVID has been a roller coaster, up and down…we could write a plan and get it submitted by July 1, and it’s going to dramatically change maybe by August 1,” Hunt said.
Even if kids were allowed back in the building, things like a limit on the number of students allowed in the classroom could mean things could look very different come the fall.
If a fall outbreak were to occur and schools would be forced to take another break like the one cut short the current school year, voluntary learning would no longer be an option, Hunt said. According to discussions he’s had with other districts, participation in learning, whether voluntary or required, was about 30 to 35 percent. Anamosa administrators said while the participation they saw was cyclical, it averaged out to about that figure.
When asked whether the district could handle the needs of students with devices, the administrators believed they had enough devices to have a one-to-one from second through 12th grade.
Strawberry Hill Principal Ellen Recker said by moving devices around from the high school and middle school, she felt they could get close to a one-to-one through kindergarten. Anamosa High School Principal Erin Thompson said, even if the district had to go to required learning, that didn’t necessarily mean it had to utilize technology.
The bigger problem, was the connectivity, with more than 100 households not having connectivity, according to a district survey, and there being a shortage of devices in households.
“Even some of our teachers that live out in rural areas, they don’t have great internet access,” he said.
Discussion are occurring at both the local and statewide level as to how that could be addressed.
In the more immediate future, Hunt said that the possibility of having some version of a summer sports season was “on the fence” and that the district was looking at a severely shortened season, the possibility of varsity only schedule and not allowing any fans to be in attendance for games to limit the amount of people needed.