When the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person learning in March 2020, interest in virtual schools skyrocketed. One of two virtual schools in the state, Iowa Virtual Academy opened in 2012 with 61 students, and as of the end of last school year served about 540 students, said Steve Hoff, principal of Iowa Virtual Academy, based in Guttenberg in northeast Iowa in the Clayton Ridge School District.
These 34 schools are on the state comprehensive list. They are the Title I schools that score in the bottom 5 percent in the state based on students’ performance on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress test, and/or for high schools, have a graduation rate below 67.1 percent. This allows them to get additional funds and support. Baxter Elementary, Baxter Community School DistrictBlack Hawk Elementary, Burlington Community School DistrictSunnyside Elementary, Burlington Community School DistrictJames Wilson Grimes School, Burlington Community School DistrictCedar River Academy at Taylor, Cedar Rapids Community School DistrictCharter Oak-Ute Elementary School, Charter Oak-Ute Community School DistrictIowa Virtual Academy, Clayton Ridge Community School District (Guttenberg)Mid City High School, Davenport Community School DistrictFrank L. Smart Intermediate, Davenport Community School DistrictMadison Elementary School, Davenport Community School DistrictMonroe Elementary School, Davenport Community School DistrictKing Elementary School, Des Moines Independent Community School DistrictGoodrell Middle School, Des Moines Independent Community School DistrictHiatt Middle School, Des Moines Independent Community School DistrictHarding Middle School, Des Moines Independent Community School DistrictMoore Elementary School, Des Moines Independent Community School DistrictLincoln Elementary School, Dubuque Community School DistrictFulton Elementary School, Dubuque Community School DistrictDurant Elementary School, Durant Community School DistrictEast Sac County Elementary, East Sac County Community School District (Sac City)West Elementary School, Emmetsburg Community School DistrictEssex Elementary School, Essex Community School DistrictGeorge Elementary School, George-Little Rock Community School DistrictLittle Rock Elementary School, George-Little Rock Community School DistrictRogers Elementary School, Marshalltown Community School DistrictAnson Elementary School, Marshalltown Community School DistrictRuthven-Ayrshire Elementary School, Ruthven-Ayrshire Community School DistrictSouth Page Senior High School, South Page Community School District (College Springs)Sylvia Enarson Elementary School, Villisca Community School DistrictExpo Alternative Learning Center, Waterloo Community School DistrictGeorge Washington Carver Academy, Waterloo Community School DistrictFred Becker Elementary School, Waterloo Community School DistrictHawarden Elementary School, West Sioux Community School DistrictIreton Elementary School, West Sioux Community School District
Source: Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab. These numbers are from the 2018-2019 school year, which is the most updated per pupil data they have.
Principal Chris Myers sought to make mental health counseling available to students in the rural district of Graettinger-Terril for nearly four years. But each time he thought he might be close, money, or lack thereof, got in the way. Myers’ luck changed in July 2020, when Iowa received $50 million in federal funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, aka the CARES Act. The act passed in March 2020 as a $2.2 trillion relief package to respond to the economic fallout from COVID-19. Of that $50 million in CARES Act money, $30 million was allocated per capita, at $9.50 per Iowan.
Some Ankeny parents are frustrated after receiving a letter Wednesday night that the Ankeny Community School District will not require students to quarantine if they have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
“At this time, our public health authorities have informed us that the district may not quarantine students,” said the letter from Erick Pruitt, who began as district superintendent in July. “We will continue to collaborate with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Polk County Health Department to ensure our actions are aligned with their direction. We recognize that this guidance is subject to change. Please refer to the Iowa Department of Public Health for the most recent guidance.”
Ankeny is the sixth-largest district in the state with more than 12,000 students and 2,285 employees, according to the district website. LaKeshia Richmond of Ankeny is a mother of three children.
Editor’s note: Omar Guadalupe Alcorta is a 2021 graduate from Buena Vista University, where he double majored in Spanish and digital media. While in school, Alcorta served as station manager at KBVU, the university’s radio station, and worked part-time as a producer for Iowa Public Radio and Storm Lake Radio. This story is a script of a podcast he reported and produced. IowaWatch and BVU are longtime partners. KBVU 97.5 The Edge · Same Dream Different Shoes Final
ALCORTA: If a chameleon could talk, and you could ask it, “What color are you?” how would it respond? Would it even have an answer? Or if it did, would its answer be, “It depends.”
Omar Guadalupe Alcorta is a Buena Vista University graduate.
ByHanah Kitamoto, Kailey Gee, Krisha Kapoor, Alex Carlon, Maddy Smith and Misha Canin / IowaWatch |
The Class of `21 has taken COVID-19’s brunt when it comes to education but also traditions and rites of passage. But students interviewed for a new IowaWatch high school journalism project showed plenty of pain in all grades this past year.
Andy and Amy Jo Hellenbrand live on a little farm in south-central Wisconsin where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat, heifers, chickens, goats, bunnies, and their four children, ages 5 to 12. For the entire fall semester, the quartet of grade school students learned virtually from home, as their district elected to keep school buildings closed. That has put a strain on the family, as well as the childrens’ grades and grammar. “I definitely feel like they’re falling behind,” said Amy Jo Hellenbrand. “You just notice certain things as far as their language and how they talk.
High school sports are a way of life in rural Iowa communities. In a time of COVID-19, athletic activities are becoming more difficult to host and maintain. Today, some events can be viewed online. When the pandemic came, track, tennis and golf were cancelled. Summer brought baseball and softball with extensive provisions for distancing and sanitary procedures.
Gusty winds blew corn husks through the school’s parking lot on November 16 at South Hamilton Schools. This piece is part of a collaborative reporting project that includes the Institute for Nonprofit News, Charlottesville Tomorrow, El Paso Matters, IowaWatch, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico in Depth, Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group and Wisconsin Watch/The Badger Project. The collaboration was made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. It was another day of the staff trying to keep up with the daily reports of sickened students and faculty, making sure kids pumped hand sanitizer and wore face masks nearly all the time, properly social distanced during band practice and lunch periods, and pivoted from teaching in-person and virtual learners while taking extra time to help those struggling.
Even the lunchroom is different this year. Cafeteria tables limit seating.
Jewell, Iowa – At 3:20 p.m. on a Monday, a voice booms through the public address speakers at South Hamilton School. “Everybody mask up.” A reminder of how much changed this school year. The South Hamilton district — 700 pre-K through 12th-grade students from the rural towns of Ellsworth, Randall, Stanhope and Jewell in the center of Iowa — tackled challenges facing other rural schools since COVID-19 came to Iowa in March and shut down schools.
“You can’t handle the ‘what ifs,’ because there are too many of them,” said longtime activities director Todd Coy. This piece is part of a collaborative reporting project that includes the Institute for Nonprofit News, Charlottesville Tomorrow, El Paso Matters, IowaWatch, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico in Depth, Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group and Wisconsin Watch/The Badger Project. The collaboration was made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.