Answers to Frequently Asked Questions As We Plan for the Upcoming School Year
As we make plans for the start of the 2020-21 school year for the Sioux City Community School District, we are committed to keeping our families, staff members, students, and community members informed. While there are still many uncertainties regarding what the upcoming school year will look like, we are hard at work to ensure our students continue to have access to a high-quality educational experience in a safe space.
I recognize the importance of sharing timely and transparent information about our plans so you can make plans for your child’s unique needs. You have the option to enroll your child in Virtual Learning full-time through the Sioux City Community School District. Or, you can register for school in the traditional format with the recognition that throughout the year, students may experience On-site Learning, Virtual Learning, and/or Hybrid Learning – depending on the evolution of the pandemic.
To enroll in Virtual Learning, parents/guardians must complete Online Verification and select the Virtual Learning option by August 1.
Since releasing the Return-to-Learn Plan and the option for parents/guardians to enroll their child in Virtual Learning, you’ve shared many questions. This message will provide answers to the frequently asked questions. I hope this information can help you as you consider the right educational model for your child.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will school start?
The first day of school is Tuesday, August 25. As we get closer to the first day of school, we will continue to update our school District community on how teaching and learning will look. View the 2020-21 school year calendar on our website.
Will students be able to attend in-person classes this fall?
At this time, it is too early to confirm if we will begin the school year with On-site Learning. We miss our students, and we hope that we will be able to gather students in our buildings again this fall. A decision on the start of the school year educational model will be released in the weeks ahead.
What will school look like in the fall?
At this time, we do not know for sure what our schedule will look like in the 2020-21 school year. Within the District’s Return-to-Learn Plan, there are three different learning models. We are making plans and preparations for all three and will move from one to another if conditions related to COVID-19 change within the state, community, or school buildings.
- On-site Learning: We can welcome back all students into our buildings and resume a mostly normal school day schedule. This would involve enhanced cleaning protocols, a degree of physical distancing among students, adjustments to how students enter and exit buildings, the use of masks or shields, and changes to how we manage transitions between classrooms throughout the day.
- Hybrid Learning: During hybrid learning, students will receive 50% of their traditional instruction through on-site learning. Therefore, students will only attend school on-site for a portion of the week. Families with more than one child in school will be on the same schedule. Students with last names beginning with A-M will be grouped to attend on-site for a set timeframe of the week, and students with last names beginning with N-Z will be grouped to attend on-site for the alternating set timeframe of the week. High school students will have an eight-period day, rather than a block schedule of four periods a day. When students are not attending school on-site, they will be completing the required coursework at home.
- Virtual Learning: Virtual Learning is online instruction. This is a model that parents can voluntarily elect to enroll a student in full-time. Additionally, Virtual Learning is a model that may be employed if the District needs to close a building or the entire District in response to COVID-19 spread. Any student engaged in Virtual Learning will have required coursework.
How will the District support students enrolled in Virtual Learning?
At the beginning of the year, students will be taught procedures that will include accessing Outlook e-mail, accessing Outlook calendar, joining Teams meetings, participating appropriately during instruction delivered through Teams, accessing the District “landing page” that holds the District supported and most commonly used programs/applications, accessing and navigating within Canvas or Seesaw, and accessing the help desk for technical questions or problems.
Instruction provided to students during Virtual Learning will be required to be completed with attendance taken by teachers, grades issued, and credit awarded. Students will receive instruction from high-quality Sioux City Community School District Virtual Learning instructors.
Each student enrolled in Virtual Learning will be given a laptop or learning device. This device is property of the District but will remain in the student’s possession throughout the school year. Students will be required to use the device for various class and curriculum activities. All appropriate use policies for technology use apply. Students will be required to follow policies and procedures defined in the acceptable use agreement.
How will parents/guardians need to support students voluntarily enrolled in Virtual Learning?
Parents that choose the Virtual Learning option for the 2020-2021 school year, rather than attending during the Hybrid Learning or On-Site Learning, will be expected to support their child at home with their learning. It will be the family’s responsibility to acquire the internet in their home.
How long does a family need to commit to Virtual Learning?
Parents/guardians that voluntarily select Virtual Learning must commit for at least an entire quarter.
What will the school day schedule look like in the fall for Virtual Learning students?
Parents/guardians that voluntarily elect Virtual Learning for their child will have access to the same high-quality common core classes and curriculum. However, some exploratory courses and/or elective courses may not be available through Virtual Learning. A student’s schedule for the upcoming school year may need to be modified if Virtual Learning is selected.
Virtual Learning will occur five days a week. The number of hours students will be logged into virtual instruction versus the number of hours spent on assigned work will vary by grade level and course.
If Virtual Learning is employed by the District due to a school or District closure necessitated by COVID-19 concerns, how will equitable education be provided?
The entire District will be one-to-one in the 2020-2021 school year. So, every child will have a District provided device to use. Plans will also be made to provide hotspots in areas where students need internet access.
For On-site Learning, will students and staff need to wear masks?
As an extra safety measure, students and staff will be expected to bring a mask or shield to school daily. During movement outside of the classroom, such as walking in the hallway to different classes, students and staff, will be expected to wear a mask or shield. In the classroom, masks will also be worn when it won’t impede instruction.
How will the District ensure physical distancing takes place in school buildings?
While maintaining physical distancing will be a challenge, we are implementing several measures to socially distance students to the extent possible. Bell schedules will be adjusted to limit traffic in the hallway. Class and lunch seating will be rearranged to allow distancing and minimize group areas. Staff supervision will be increased during unstructured times.
How will the District clean buildings, rooms, and surfaces to ensure a safe learning environment?
The District has implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols to help keep students, staff, and families safe. Our operations and maintenance staff will significantly increase the wiping down and disinfecting of public spaces and high-touch surfaces throughout the school day. We will also provide greater access to cleaning materials for our teachers and staff so that they can clean and disinfect spaces, as needed.
Each evening, our operations and maintenance team will conduct a thorough cleaning of our spaces, again disinfecting high-touch surfaces like sinks, drinking fountains, door handles, tables, and desks.
Will students be able to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities?
Yes, we plan to offer athletics and extracurricular activities in the fall semester. Students that voluntarily enroll in Virtual Learning can also participate in athletics and extracurricular activities.
Activities, practices, and schedules may need to be modified to ensure students remain physically distanced and can maintain proper hygiene. Each activity will look a little different, and coaches and advisors will be able to provide you and your students with more information.
It remains possible that some or all of our athletic seasons may be restricted or shortened. These potential changes will depend largely on decisions made by the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, and the Missouri River Conference. These decisions are also subject to change during the season, depending on the status of COVID-19 in our state and region.
What role do parents/guardians and the District have in managing the health of students?
Parents/guardians are expected to screen their child at home before the school day by checking their temperature and determining if any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of COVID-19 are present.
Students with the following symptoms should not come to school:
- Fever (at least 100.4 F)
- Shortness of Breath
- Muscle or Body Aches
- New Loss of Taste or Smell
- Congestion or Runny Nose
- Nausea or Vomiting
Do not send your child to school if they have experienced any of the COVID-19 symptoms in the last 24 hours.
Do not send your child to school if they have had known close contact with a person who is lab-confirmed with a COVID-19 diagnosis in the past 14 days or who have been advised by a state or local health department to quarantine.
If your child displays any of the COVID-19 symptoms during the school day, they will be moved to the Caring Room, and a parent/guardian will be called to pick up the child. Please ensure your contact information is current in Infinite Campus.
Will the District close schools if a certain number of students or staff report illnesses?
Yes, the District is preparing for situations in which school buildings need to once again close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or reporting other illnesses. We are also planning for the need to close buildings if there is a considerable increase in COVID-19 cases in our state or region. Please note that the decision to close schools in our District rests largely on recommendations from Siouxland District Health, the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Iowa Governor’s Office.
What are the District’s plans for transitioning back to remote learning if schools need to be closed again in the future?
If extended school closures become necessary during the school year, the District will be ready to quickly transition to Virtual Learning. While we recognize that the transition last spring was not perfect, we learned a great deal about how to improve the process in the future. Our administrators, teachers, and staff continue to make great progress in planning for this scenario. Instruction provided to students during Virtual Learning will be required to be completed.
Next Step: Online Verification
The next step for parents/guardians is to complete Online Verification. Through Online Verification, parents/guardians have a chance to review the 2020-2021 Parent/Guardian and Student Handbook for the first time, modify and/or confirm contact information, and complete appropriate District forms. This process is critical to ensure we have the most up-to-date information in order to contact you, especially in case of an emergency!
Online Verification is required for every student, even if you believe the District already has your current contact information.
To enroll in Virtual Learning, please complete Online Verification and select the Virtual Learning option by August 1.
If you have questions about completing Online Verification, please refer to the step-by-step instructions provided on the webpage. If you do not have a computer or internet access at home to complete Online Verification, or if you need personal assistance with this process, please contact one of our registrars. Parents/guardians of high school students, please call your child’s high school to speak with the high school registrar. Parents/guardians of elementary or middle school students, please call 712-279-6667 to schedule an appointment with one of our central registrars.
Your feedback and additional questions are welcome. Please send us a message on Let’s Talk. Thank you for choosing the Sioux City Community School District for your child’s education.
Dr. Paul Gausman
Sioux City Community School District