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CCA has sights set on Aug. 24

Board receives an update on district’s Return to Learn plan

OXFORD– While some school districts, such as the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) have pushed back the first day of the 2020-21 school year, the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) School District is still planning on returning students to their buildings on Monday, Aug. 24.
CCA Superintendent Tim Kuehl and Associate Superintendent Matt Leeman updated the school board of education on the district’s Return to Learn plan during a regularly scheduled work session on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at the district administrative offices near Oxford.
The CCA Return to Learn plan has pre-kindergarten through eighth graders on-site daily while high students will have a 50/50 schedule with some attending in the mornings, and others attending in the afternoons on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and every other Wednesday. While not on-site, the high school students will have required “asynchronous learning,” or online learning at home, which will be monitored with attendance and expectations for completion of assignments.
Board members said they have heard from several parents who were confused about “synchronous” and “asynchronous” learning, and had high school students thinking an a.m. only, or a p.m. only schedule, meant additional free time for them.
“We need to say that in a way that parents are understanding that that means you have to do work when you’re not in the building,” Kuehl said. “They’re half on-site, half virtual. It’s not just half-school.”
If a family feels it is in the best interest of their child/children to not physically attend school, then “Family Choice Virtual Learning,” is available in an online format. As with the asynchronous learning for the high school students, homebound students are expected to actively participate with attendance taken and expectations for the completion of assignments.
“As required learning, we are required to document that kids are engaged and participating in the learning, with attendance,” said Kuehl. “We will make sure we are having contact with the kids. It’s not just did Matt turn it in, but also I’m (the teacher) going to talk to Matt that day either on the phone or video chat.”
“We won’t let them (virtual learners) fall through the cracks, and our feet are being held to the fire by the state to not let that happen,” Leeman added.
The district could transition to 100 percent virtual learning if a significant change to health or safety occurs (increase in COVID-19 infections, for example), and per Iowa Department of Education, the Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Johnson County Public Health Department. Virtual learning can also be utilized in lieu of cancelling school due to weather.
As of Aug. 5, seven staff members had indicated they may utilize the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to preexisting conditions, Kuehl said.
“Our goal is to find virtual or safe ways for them to not have to go on FMLA, and we can still utilize them to serve kids virtually or isolated in the buildings, if that makes more sense for them.”
Among students, 1,871 are expected to return to school, 438 are taking the at-home virtual option, and the district’s principals and secretaries were working diligently to make contact with approximately 400 families that had not completed a Return to School survey.
The district’s goal is to keep class sizes as low as possible, Kuehl said. “Right now, I think we’re in pretty good shape. I’ll know that for a fact within the next few days.”
“Its still fluid,” Leeman added. “I literally just took three kids from on-site and moved them to virtual during this meeting.”
“I would just reiterate that we will do our very best to keep (class sizes) as small as we can in each classroom. I had one principal who I think felt personally offended that some families were choosing virtual, and it’s like, it’s okay. That’s their choice, and it makes our job easier in the classroom. It’s not a vindictive thing. Families have to make the right choice for them.”

PULL QUOTE
“We need to say that in a way that parents are understanding that that means you have to do work when you’re not in the building. They’re half on-site, half virtual. It’s not just half-school.” – Superintendent Tim Kuehl on the 50/50 plan for high school students