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Iowa City Schools to require face coverings for upcoming school year

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:58 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Students and staff will need to wear a facial covering to be present at school and school-related activities in Iowa City for the upcoming year, according to the school board.

The Iowa City Community School District is still working on finalizing its full Return to Learn plan for the 2020-2021 academic year. However, Interim Superintendent Matt Degner said during a virtual school board meeting Tuesday that the district would implement a “hybrid” learning model, meaning some students will learn in the physical classroom while others learn virtually from home.

The district and school board aren’t ready to decide how specifically they will lay out this hybrid plan, saying too much could change between now and the start of the school year.

One option they discussed Tuesday involves younger students learning in the classroom every day and older students rotating between in-person and virtual learning, in order to reduce the number of students in classrooms and school buildings at a time. In a second option, most students would learn from home, while a smaller number of students in certain programs, like the English Language Learning program, come to school for class.

Ultimately, though, Degner said families will make the decision of whether their children learn in the classroom or virtually this year.

“I think our responsibility to our community is to make sure that they’re making an informed choice and that they know what those different models would look like and what they’re opting in to or choosing to do,” he said. “The more we can give them on that, that will be the appropriate time to ask them so that they can make an informed choice.”

The district also released some details on Tuesday for steps it will be taking to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus during in-person learning.

Steps will include requiring students and staff in the building to wear a face covering, which could include a mask or face shield. They will also be required at school activities and while riding a school bus. The district will allow waivers under certain circumstances, like a qualifying medical condition.

Procedures will also be in place for frequent hand washing and enhanced sanitization procedures for school buildings.

Classrooms will be physically reconfigured in order to socially distance whenever possible. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in school offices and potentially in other areas where it would be difficult to enforce social distance requirements.

The district’s plans said that the overall school calendar will not be changed at this time. The academic year begins on August 24 and ends on May 28, with day lengths to stay the same.

Officials plan on prioritizing areas of basic support, including technology, nutrition, shelter, social-emotional-behavioral health, and equity concerns. Plans are being made to continue meal distribution in case of a move to hybrid or at-home continuous learning.

More information can be found on the district’s website.

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