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Iowa City schools to have permanent online option next year

The Iowa City Community School District says starting next year, they want to grow their online learning program and give families a permanent option.
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 4:02 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A lot of families and students have experienced what it’s like to learn online more than ever the past year. And for those wanting to continue their education full-time online next year, Iowa City Schools is making that possible for every single grade.

The new Director of Online Learning, Gregg Shoultz, said they had to learn really fast how they were going to handle so many students who wanted to learn online this year.

He said they thought around 10% of students would want to learn online full-time this current year, but it was actually 45%. That’s about 6,500 students who signed up for the district’s continuous online learning. He says the district saw that as a sign that their parents and students want to have a permanent online option for next school year for those that like it.

Shoultz expects around 400 students to enroll the first year. He added that not every parent is up to date on science, social studies, and math, so the online program can help relieve parents from the “teaching” position.

“We’ve found we have some data from our parents that say some of those students that come to school and would be kind of silent, or their surroundings were preventing them from doing really good work, are now raising their hand online and being very excellent students in the online world,” said Shoultz.

He said at the start of the new school year in the Fall, some families still might be concerned about their health or have specific traveling needs. He also said students outside the district looking for a different learning opportunity can apply for the program as well, no matter the grade level.

A West High School counselor, Kelly Bergmann, said the program creates more flexibility for some students who struggle with mental health and being in crowded environments.

Bergmann said some students learn better in their own physical environment, and the Iowa City School District Online program can be an option to help relieve a student’s anxiety. She said they are really pushing for students to try out the program for an entire year before they would switch back to in-person.

Bergmann added that learning online can help prepare students for college, and teaches them how to use their time wisely.

“Because you’re mostly on your own and your at home, and you may also have chunks of time during your normal school day where you won’t be in class. It really does force students take responsibility for their own time management, so they don’t have someone sitting over them asking if they’ve done this or that or if you’ve turned in your homework,” said Bergmann.

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