School board decisions on hybrid learning

The Live Wire discusses hybrid learning.

Hybrid schooling began for students in standard enrollment on September 8th. It has done its job and proven to keep the number of Covid-19 cases in our school system low. Out of 14,000 students, only 263 (1.9%) have caught Covid at some point since August 15 according to the district’s  “COVID-19 Dashboard

Though hybrid learning has kept positivity rates low in the ICCSD community, some students have struggled with the model, while others have enjoyed the opportunity to be social.

“It really depends on the student,” said Lisa Williams, a director for the Iowa Community School District (ICCSD) School Board. “We have gotten some really good feedback from parents who were surprised that the hybrid schedule is working so well … And then, we have other parents and students who are really struggling with [the] hybrid [model]. Like last year, we had kids who struggled with that type of school and that type of learning. And we had kids who were successful. But what we want more than anything right now is what everybody wants: to get back to normal.”

But what we want more than anything right now is what everybody wants: to get back to normal.”

— Lisa Williams

However, students at liberty have different opinions on the topic.

“I don’t like [hybrid], but it’s better than being all online. I would much rather be in-person the whole time than have an online class,” said Ben Ross, senior.

But Ross doesn’t speak for all Liberty students.

“I like it a lot [hybrid] because I get to see my friends and socialize,” said Alexis Erb, senior. “But, I would say there is room for improvement. In my classes, it seems that we are just watching videos… I just think that we could do that at home and we should learn from actual teachers while we are in school.”

Hybrid learning has been going on for just over two months and is expected to last the entirety of the  2020-2021 school year. But the type of schooling students receive is subject to change. If the district shows over a 10% positivity rate, ICCSD will move to online schooling. However, if the percent of cases drops significantly below 5%, students could return to all on-campus learning, according to  “COVID-19 Dashboard

Over the summer, the school board created aDecision Matrix to help decide if there will be a change in the type of schooling. 

“[Using the matrix], we look at the [positivity] rate in the community. . . We also look at our building’s absenteeism rate or how many students and teachers are out sick with Covid [to determine what method of schooling will be applied],” said Williams.

As of October 24, the Johnson County area is at around a 5.3% positivity Covid-19 rate in the last 14 days, according to Covid-19 in Iowa, which is in the positivity range for hybrid learning.

However, there is a lot that can be changed in the rest of the school year. One idea that parents have been wondering about is that schools should be having a two-week quarantine period of online school after winter break.

“I believe that new rumor to be false. I anticipate starting classes after the winter break the way we enter them: online kids remaining online and hybrid kids working in the same AAABB model,” said Scott Kibby, the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. “ The virus has surprised us several times and made us change our plans so anything could happen. But at this moment, we are not planning on starting after winter break like we started the school year with all students online.”

With the different problems, families in the ICCSD could face, it is common for people to have trouble with the recent change in how things work. 

“The barriers for kids are broad. Some have internet issues, some have family commitments for siblings, and for some, they haven’t adjusted their normal learning to fit this new environment, and I’m not casting blame,” said Kibby.  “I know it’s weird, and I know it’s hard for kids.  The struggle is real, and as educators, it’s our job to figure this out for our kids. We want to help.”

You are not alone. It’s not easy for everybody else. .. This year is really hard. ”

— Lisa Williams

Williams said, “You are not alone. It’s not easy for everybody else. .. This year is really hard.  But I think that [every] single one of your teachers, staff, and administration all care about you. So, if you need help, then ask and reach out because people will want to help you and give you that support that you need.”