URBANDALE, Iowa — Hours after receiving an online learning waiver denial by the Department of Education, the Urbandale Community School District made a decision they say is best for their community. The decision wasn’t easy for the school board members, but it was decisive. Urbandale Community School District Board member Judy Downs said, “One of my biggest concerns with going hybrid right now is it is so quick. It is such a quick turnaround.”
The seven-member board unanimously chose to keep Rolling Green Elementary online for two more weeks, despite student Olivia Krueger detailing how distracting online learning can be. “Today we had music and I had 58 chat comments unread and one of them said ‘hamburger.’ Nothing to do with what music has,” said Krueger.
Many of the school board members said switching the elementary school to a hybrid model by Friday was too soon for families, teachers and students to get adjusted. Since it is a year-round school, it was granted an initial waiver to stay online through Aug. 6, despite the governor’s mandate of in-class learning 50% of the time. The board’s decision Monday to stay online is extended through Aug. 20.
The district is aware that the decision could come with consequences from the Department of Education, which may include ruling their online learning as ineligible, forcing them to make up time in class at a later date.
Despite those possible consequences, the board said it is more important to help flatten the curve and stay home. “Morally we are all feeling it’s not right to think students can be in school on Friday in a building with what we know about community spread,” said Urbandale CSD Director of Teaching and Learning Crista Carlile.
The school board will meet again Monday, Aug. 10 to decide which hybrid model will be used district-wide to begin the school year.