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Dubuque school officials examining future of online learning and other safety guidelines as they prepare for next school year

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 9:52 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Danielle Meyer’s daughter, Lydia, spent most of the school year learning at Carver Elementary School through a screen.

“Originally I had decided to have her do online because I had just had a baby and there was a lot of exposure,” Meyer explained. “I figured with the online it would cut down the exposure and I would not have to worry so much.”

That was until Governor Reynolds mandated school districts to go back to offering fully in-person learning.

Because of Lydia’s daycare’s policy, Meyer had to send her back to fully in-person learning. Even though she said the school district has done an excellent job putting together an online curriculum, she said her daughter probably would not have lasted much longer learning online and not in the classroom.

“I noticed that she was lacking some of that connection with classmates, and kids, and face to face and I could really see that in her,” she mentioned. “She said a couple of times, ‘I want to go to school, I want to see my friends.’”

According to District Superintendent Stan Rheingans, the Meyer family is just one of many who keep shifting their children from online learning to in-person.

“We do see a migration, even today, back to in-person education, so we have more and more families making that decision, truly, on a day by day basis,” Rheingans said.

The District has been offering online classes since the pandemic began a year ago. Now, school officials are trying to figure out whether there will be a need for it by August and into the next school year.

“We are going to send out a survey to those who are currently online saying, ‘What are your plans? If we offer an online would you participate in that or do you think you will be back to school in person?’” Rheingans explained.

Currently, the District says around 1,500 students, or 14.5 percent, of its 10,000 students are learning online. Rheingans said they will keep offering online learning options if there is enough interest for it.

When it comes to requiring masks, Rheingans said that will definitely not be going away this school year.

“The numbers on our dashboard are extremely low, so we are really thrilled to have that consistency of education with our students and we do not want to do anything to disrupt that for this year,” he said.

For next year, however, it will depend on vaccination progress, comfort level, and whether the city still has a mask mandate in place. Rheingans said between 85 and 90 percent of teachers and school staff received the COVID-19 vaccine.

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