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All virtual, and a hiatus for fall sports

ICCSD receives waiver allowing two weeks of online education to start the school year

IOWA CITY¬– The “Friday Night Lights” will be turned off for at least two weeks for Liberty High, Iowa City West High and City High after the Iowa City Community School District’s (ICCSD) Board of Education approved beginning the 2020-2021 school year with 100 percent online instruction.
The district has stated for several weeks its desire to begin the year virtually due to increasing positivity rates for the COVID-19 virus in Johnson County. However, Iowa law requires at least 50 percent of all instruction be delivered in person (onsite), which laid the foundation for a battle between the district and the state as doing so without the Iowa Department of Education’s waiver (also approved by Gov. Kim Reynolds), would have not counted toward the 180 days or 1,080 hours of required student instruction and would have needed to be made up before the end of the school year.
The ICCSD requested the waiver on Wednesday, Aug. 26, and received approval the same day. The district had already announced classes would not start until Tuesday, Sept. 8 (the day after Labor Day).
One consequence of the move, which was approved by the school board in a special Saturday, Aug. 29, meeting, is the suspension of all fall athletics and other extracurricular activities while the 100 percent online education is in effect. West, Liberty and City High all played football on Friday, Aug. 28, and games for the week of Monday, Aug. 31, are anticipated to continue as scheduled, albeit with restrictions on spectators.
During the West High versus Liberty High football game at Liberty, for example, there were no spectators in the stands. However, fans gathered on top of their vehicles in the parking lot while others stood outside the fence around the football stadium.
Johnson County’s 14-day average positivity rate, according to the state’s Coronavirus data webpage (https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/pages/percent-school-district-positive-anal...) was 21.1 percent on Aug. 29, well above the 15 percent threshold for the granting of a waiver.
Neighboring Clear Creek Amana (CCA) closed its high school for one day on Thursday, Aug. 27, due to a positive test for one student, however the building was open again the next day following deep cleaning. The CCA school board met on Aug. 28 to authorize its superintendent to apply for a waiver in the case of 15 percent positivity and 10 percent absenteeism in a building or the district, which is attributable to the COVID-19 virus.