Change, progress and the future of learning
With the start of the new school year on the horizon, it is hard to believe how far we have come since March 15, when we first sent students home, and we couldn’t fathom how we would prepare for and adjust to a new model of teaching and learning. Yet, with determination and open minds, we banded together and forged ahead into uncharted territory, never losing sight of the students we serve.
Today marks a significant milestone in that progress. All 327 public school districts and 119 state-accredited nonpublic schools are submitting their Return-to-Learn plans. It was no easy task, proving that progress takes place outside of our comfort zones. I am inspired by the dedication of school administrators, educators and staff who dared to discover how classrooms can coexist as physical spaces and virtually, shifting our landscapes for learning.
As with any plan, its success lies in implementation, outcomes and ability to make adjustments to ensure continued progress. This work is a shared venture with valued partnerships between the Iowa Department of Education, AEAs, school districts, nonpublic schools, public health and other key partners to stay the course. While the real work lies ahead, I am confident we will find our way forward together.
We recognize that schools and districts have numerous considerations that need to be examined at the local level in order to be ready to reopen in the fall. To support this work, we have issued guidance, training modules, resources and support documents to help schools and districts as they carefully consider each decision point and determine what is best for their community of learners. We are collaborating to provide more professional learning opportunities to help educators and administrators navigate virtual learning environments, developing a statewide hub of online courses for districts and nonpublic schools to choose from, and working to address barriers to online learning.
While the next couple of months are sure to bring challenges, supporting our schools, and one another, will play an important part in this process. We can’t predict what the next few months will bring, but we want to continue to hear from you as we commit to serving families, educators and students across Iowa.