Learning online due to COVID-19 also means missing some school activities in College Community

College Community School District creates extra consequences to move students online
College Community School District creates extra consequences to move students online
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:41 PM CST
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been revised to make it clear College Community School District is following state guidance in limiting in-person activities for students electing remote learning, to include more detail of the district’s reasoning for the policy and to remove an incorrect reference to a previous report on the district’s remote learning process.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Students who opt for remote learning in the College Community School District won’t be able to take part in many school-sponsored activities.

The district had parents fill out a forum to go online, which said voluntary non-medical participation in the online program would require students waive access to all school-sponsored activities, with an exception for special events like prom or graduation.

The district says it helps limit exposure for students who don’t feel safe to come to in-person school. Essentially, if a student opts for online learning to avoid COVID-19 exposure, the district sees no difference in the safety concern for school activities like sports or clubs: if it’s unsafe to come for a class, it’s no safer to come for music or sports practice. It’s the same principle Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has used in requiring school districts who opt to move entirely online due to COVID-19 concerns to also halt all sports and activities, too.

Heather Doe, who is a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Education, said in an email to i9 that these decisions are made locally unless a school district is approved to temporarily provide primarily remote learning for a two-week period.

“When [the waiver] is granted, school districts must also cease in-person extracurricular activities during the entire time period that students are receiving 100 percent remote learning within the approved 14-calendar-day window,” she said. “The school district is best positioned to answer questions about its specific policies.”

Steve Doser, who is a spokesperson for the College Community School district, said in an email to i9 the policy is in line with the purpose of the district’s remote learning option, known as Temporary Virtual Learning.

“Our temporary virtual program is designed to address medical needs or concerns related to exposure to COVID-19,” he said.

Some parents, like Gretchen Dennis, feel the district is trying to punish remote learners and discourage students from opting for online instruction.

“It makes you wonder if it was to try and discourage people,” she said. “I know, I think it’s been difficult to maintain.”

Both of Dennis’ children are learning online but one is still able to take part in an after-school music program.

The district says it will still allow participation in activities that can be achieved online, giving the same access as the remote learning gives students to classroom lessons.

There are reasons to want to keep students in the classroom. A report from the Rand Corporation, which is a think-tank, found students are less prepared to participate in grade-level work.

Governor Kim Reynolds said in her Condition of the State address moving kids back into the classroom is a priority.

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