Southeast Polk to begin school year in hybrid model, with re-evaluation every two weeks
The Southeast Polk school district decided Thursday to begin the school year with a combination of in-person and online classes, but it left room to re-evaluate and change that plan every two weeks.
Students will begin the school year Aug. 24 in a hybrid model that will include a mix of online and in-person classes. Families have the option to enroll their students in a 100% virtual program.
Beginning Sept. 8, pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students will transition to fully in-person classes while students in middle school and high school will continue in the hybrid model. The district will re-evaluate its model every two weeks, with the goal of transitioning to fully in-person classes as soon as the district determines it is safe.
"As a board, we need to understand that (in-person) is the option we want for everybody" who chooses to attend school physically, board member Brett Handy said. "We can do ourselves so much better at getting these kids back to school ... if, once the administration says 'Yeah, we can make this work,' that we can act."
School board vice president Tom Naeve said the district needs the flexibility to be able to transition to fully in-person classes if data about the spread of COVID-19 shows that it is safe.
Families are not "perfect little bubble people" who can totally avoid going out in public and interacting with others, he said. In school, teachers can at least make sure they follow safety guidelines, he said.
"I think a lot of them would be better off in that environment and be safer in that environment than they will be on their off days, doing who knows what with who knows who," Naeve said.
Board member Lori Slings disagreed. Families that are concerned about COVID-19, but do not want to go fully online, should still be given an option to receive in-person teaching safely, she said.
"There are a lot of people who have been following the rules," Slings said. "If we're going to put them all in a school together ... we have to do what's best for everybody."
Robin Opsahl covers the eastern Des Moines metro for the Register. Reach them at email@example.com or 515-284-8051.
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