School Start Date and Return to Learn Plan

August 26, 2020 08:20 PM

Dear Families,

We have good news to share this evening! At 5:13 p.m. today, we were approved for a waiver from the Iowa Department of Education per Governor Kim Reynolds’ August 21st proclamation. This allows us to communicate a new school start date of September 21, 2020, and the approval to maintain our current school calendar with a June 1, 2021, end date. 

Our district teams have been working around the clock to map out a new plan, given the realities of building damage and infrastructure obstacles, and the news this evening helps us move forward. 

The following content of this email outlines the road ahead, but the main takeaways are captured in these six points:

  1. The CRCSD school year will begin September 21, 2020 for K-12. Preschool begins on September 28, 2020. (edited 8-28-2020)
  2. Beginning September 21, Elementary School in-person and online learning will occur, depending on the Return to Learn family selection you chose earlier this month. 
  3. Beginning September 21, Middle School and High School students will conduct online learning only (even if you chose in-person learning earlier this month) with the exception of Metro High School which will have the in-person instruction option. 
  4. There are 18 buildings that are securely available to house Elementary School in-person learning, Special Education, vulnerable populations, and students and staff who do not have internet access.
  5. The remaining buildings, as they become approved for re-entry, will be phased in for in-person learning throughout the first semester of 2020-2021 school year. 
  6. The school calendar year will remain as originally planned, with June 1, 2021, as the last day of the 2020-2021 school year.


The following information reflects the detail (and complexity) associated with the newest Return to Learn rollout plan. 

Building Assessment: Insurance Team and Buildings and Grounds Factual Realities

  • Buildings need to be physically accessible and safe at least at 75% capacity in order to be used for in-person instruction
  • Insurance team will “hand-over” building to CRCSD when an individual building reaches 75% capacity
  • The following buildings will be at 75% capacity within three weeks, by September 14th, for staff to set up by September 21st, for students to return. Note that Middle School buildings on the list will be utilized for Elementary School and internet hub stations. 
    • Arthur
    • Coolidge
    • Erskine
    • Grant Wood
    • Harrison
    • Jackson
    • Johnson STEAM Academy
    • Cedar River Academy at Taylor
    • Madison
    • Viola Gibson
    • Van Buren
    • Wright
    • Cleveland
    • Hiawatha
    • Truman
    • Harding Middle School (houses Nixon and Kenwood Leadership Academy)
    • Roosevelt/RCCBA Middle School (houses Hoover and Pierce)
    • Wilson Middle School (houses Grant and Garfield, homeschool and CRVA)
    • Metro High School 
    • Polk Alternative  
    • ELSC (district office)
  • The following buildings could be at 75% capacity by November 16, 2020:
    • Garfield
    • Hoover
    • Nixon
    • Grant
    • Pierce
    • Kenwood Leadership Academy
  • The following buildings could be at 75% capacity by January 1, 2021:
    • Franklin 
    • McKinley STEAM Academy 
    • Taft 
    • Jefferson 
    • Kennedy
    • Washington

Re​spective school administrators will provide detailed information regarding your Return to Learn next steps.

School Start Date and Return to Learn Decision-making Process

  • Prioritize PK-5 Elementary students for in-person instruction for the following reasons:
    • Developmental needs for youngest students
    • Middle School and High School students are more developmentally and skills prepared for online/remote learning than elementary students
    • The majority of elementary school buildings incurred less damage from the derecho than Middle School and High School school buildings
  • Prioritize Special Education and other vulnerable populations 
  • Metro High School will also be available to host in-person instruction for Metro students

The following school could be utilized for Special Education and Therapeutic Settings by September 21st for in-person learning:

  • Polk Alternative Education Center

Middle Schools and High Schools (except Metro High School) start the year with online learning for the following reasons:

  1. Six of the ten secondary schools have more significant damage than all elementary schools
  2. If in-person instruction is prioritized for grades PK-5, the four Middle Schools that incurred less damage would be needed for elementary age students in-person instruction.
  3. Middle School and High School students are more developmentally and skills prepared for online learning than elementary students
  4. The Cedar Rapids community’s power and internet infrastructures were significantly impacted by the derecho. There are segments of the community that continue to not have power or internet access. In order to begin the school year on September 21, 2020, CRCSD would create “internet hubs” in portions of some of the secondary schools or community buildings in order to assure access for all students. In addition, hot-spots have already been secured for qualifying students/families per our district data in June 2020. 
  5. Students assigned to the following schools would start their school year with online learning on September 21, 2020

    Harding Middle School
    Taft Middle School
    Franklin Middles School
    Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy Middle School
    McKinley STEAM Academy
    Wilson Middle School
    Jefferson High School
    Kennedy High School
    Washington High School

  6. Metro High School will have in-person instruction available to families who selected that option for Metro High School students

Instructional Waiver/Calendar Days

In addition to altering the original Return to Learn plan, CRCSD requested from the Department of Education a waiver to accommodate the community damage incurred by the August 10, 2020, derecho. The waiver has been granted and allows for an adjustment to the mandated instructional hours, resulting in the CRCSD school calendar to remain as currently posted. 

While I know this is a lot to absorb, I wanted to share it with you so you understand the tough decision-making process and will hopefully support our students, each other, and all affected by this unique time in CRCSD history. Let’s help each other to get through this unprecedented time.

Again, thank you for your grace and patience during this challenging time.

Best to you,
Noreen Bush


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