CL School District begins to consider options for start

by Marianne Gasaway

What will learning look like for Clear Lake students this fall?  That’s what Superintendent Doug Gee and School Board members will begin considering this week.

“We will be discussing different Return to Learning plans — whether we were totally online, some kind of hybrid or totally back in school,” said Gee in advance of the Board’s Tuesday night, July 14, meeting.

No decisions were expected at the meeting because the district plans to send a survey out to parents late this week or early next week to gather input.  The district is also working with the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health for a safe school start.

The school calendar passed earlier this year by the School Board calls for the school year to start Aug. 24.

“Of course, the ultimate goal is to get all our students and staff back in school, but the challenge is, how do we do it safely? said Gee.  “There is a tremendous amount of information out there and it keeps changing as we learn more about COVID-19.”

Gee added he would prefer to wait until the first week in August to make a final decision on which route he will recommend to district leaders.

Whichever route Clear Lake Schools take, the Iowa Department of Education has stated that attendance is mandatory and grading is required.

“So whichever route we take, students will be expected to participate,” said Gee.

Using the totally online option, all students would have their device and do their learning from home; attendance would be taken everyday, with work required to be turned in online.  Teachers would work from their classrooms each day.

Under a hybrid learning model, students would come to classrooms every other day, so one-half of the students are in a school building each day.  The students that are home would still be required to be working online and attendance would be taken.

Students returning to classrooms in the fall as normal would require the district to make certain accommodations for staff and students that are considered at-risk to do online work.

At this time, Gee said no decision has been made about whether masks will be recommended or required.  He does not envision elementary students wearing a mask, he said.

Busing also remains undecided, as the district will need to determine how many students can safely be transported.

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