CRCSD gives update on virtual learning, waiting for more answers on vaccine distribution

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 10:30 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - While families in the Cedar Rapids Community School District have the option to change their Return-to-Learn plan choice for the spring semester, district leaders said during a school board meeting Monday that the vast majority of families are opting to stick with the plan they selected at the start of the school year.

Deputy Superintendent Nicole Kooiker reported about a quarter of all students across the entire district are learning through the remote-learning plan, totaling around 4,000 students. About an additional 600 students, making up 3.7% of the district’s population, are participating in the Cedar Rapids Virtual Academy.

During Monday’s meeting, board members heard personal accounts from four remote-learning teachers on how they are working to keeping students engaged and connect with them and their families this year.

The teachers said their strategies include using an artificial intelligence platform that gives feedback to students’ questions, sending virtual confetti on students’ birthdays, playing games and scavenger hunts, and holding office hours over Google Meet for students to pop in, ask questions, or just chat.

“Really, really trying to create those connections with kids because this is hard, and so always looking for ways to connect with the kids, connect with their families in these social and emotional ways,” Nicole Schultz, a teacher at the Cedar Rapids Virtual Academy, said.

At-Large Director Gary Anhalt also asked Superintendent Noreen Bush about when district employees will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Teachers and school staff are included in Phase 1-B of the state’s vaccination plan as essential workers who can’t socially distance themselves at work. Bush said, to her knowledge, there is no plan currently for vaccine distribution to schools in Linn County.

“I would say it’s a, ‘dot, dot, dot,’” Bush said. “We’re not there yet, but there seems to be more information forthcoming, I would say, in the coming weeks, and we will work with Linn County Public Health as that information becomes available.”

Every school district in the state is offering some in-person learning to students to begin the new year.

Bush said the Cedar Rapids Community School District continues to monitor county positivity rates and employee absenteeism to determine if they would need to shift back to all-virtual instruction in the future.

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