ANITA – More students are enrolling in the Iowa Connections Academy -an online school that works in partnership with the CAM School District — since the coronavirus outbreak started, Iowa Connection Academy Principal James Brauer said.
Brauer said the big reason many families are asking about online school is because there have been so many questions about how schools will have to operate during the outbreak that many wanted to have another option for education for their students.
“What (parents are) saying is that there’s a high level of uncertainty,” Brauer said. “They don’t mean disrespect at all toward their resident school districts. But (when this started, school officials) were not aware of what their return to learn plans were, (so parents) wanted to make sure they had an option or they already made up their minds that a reentry to school was not going to be in the best interest of their family.”
On Thursday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said that only school districts in counties with a coronavirus positivity rate of 15 percent or higher will be allowed to go to online learning full time.
Brauer said that as of Thursday enrollment is up 80 percent from last year,with about 630 students enrolled for the upcoming school year, with another 600-700 eligible students, who haven’t enrolled yet.
Brauer said that with more students more staff will be needed, including a school counselor, two to three more high school teachers and an elementary teacher.
“I’m confident we will be in good hands (in hiring more staff), but it has increased our faculty,” he said.
Brauer said when the outbreak first occurred, the school did temporarily shut down, but only for a week.
“We wanted to be sure that every student truly had access to the internet,” he said, “(And) we wanted to make sure every student had access to a computer.”
He said most people assume if students are learning online, they are at home, but. “Some students were actually conducting some of their schooling at public vendors, which had free wifi, such as a public library.”
But he said after determining that all students could learn from home, he said, “we were fortunate because it was business as usual,” other than additional communication between students, parents and school officials to make sure everyone was doing okay during the outbreak.
While the outbreak has caused a lot of stress for the average person, Brauer does have the outlook that things will be okay when it comes to educating students.
“It’s easy to believe sometimes there’s just a very negative outlook (right now with a lot of) chaos,” he said. “ I don’t believe that’s actually the case. I believe when the school year opens, and everybody has a chance to take a breath, reflect, and dip their feet in, they’re going to feel comfortable. And they’re going to realize each of these schools are truly doing the best that they can do with the regulations and restrictions (they are working under) to provide students with the best schooling possible.”
And he also thinks it’s important to consider what parents are dealing with “because there’s uncertainty there too.”