WAVERLY – Last Spring as Iowa schools shut down due to the pandemic, teachers across Iowa scrambled to bring educational opportunities to their students through the voluntary attendance model. This fall, as directed by the Department of Education, all Iowa schools are to give families an option to enroll their children in Remote Learning Services or in-person learning. Remote learning is an option offered to every Iowa parent concerned about exposing their children, or other family members to the coronavirus.
“We acknowledge that not everyone is in a position, nor do they necessarily desire to go remote,” Principal Tamela Johnson said. “We at St. Paul’s strive to be flexible and love being able to provide our students the opportunity for remote learning.”
Each of the classrooms at St. Paul’s Lutheran School is equipped with a computer utilized to bring live instruction to those learning from home.
“It’s been great to see a few of our kids home due to quarantine or those that just aren’t feeling well enough to come to school also join the class remotely and keep up on the day’s instruction and assignments,” Johnson said.
St. Paul’s has developed Individualized Remote Educational Plans (IREP) for their students that are dependent on Remote Learning. The plans include the resources needed and provide an outline of the number of minutes the students are engaged in remote learning. Stephanie Brown, who is also the art teacher, is spending a few hours a week helping to support teachers as well as students at home with remote learning. All staff members utilize either Google Classroom or Seesaw as their Learning Platform. Many of the teachers also have Virtual Learning Classrooms that provide students and families with academic resources to enhance their learning.
As a public school educator for over 40 years, one of the things Principal Johnson has noticed that public school children miss out on is the power of prayer, the ability to openly ask God for forgiveness and the experience of being able to gather for worship. St. Paul’s Lutheran School is able to provide students the opportunity for more rounded educational opportunities, intermixing spiritual as well as academic opportunities. This year due to the need for social distance, each week they have two of the classes gathered in the sanctuary while the rest of the classes watch worship through the live stream. Worship is also open to congregation members and the community and they encourage families to send the worship online link to relatives from afar. Worship is a service provided in person, for remote learners and homeschooled families.
Under Iowa’s rules, schools must have a positive coronavirus test rate of at least 15% in the county where they are located over the previous 14 days and at least 10% absenteeism among students before they receive a two-week waiver to transition to full online learning. Should St. Paul’s ever have to send a cohort group of students or a classroom of students home due to an exposure or if they have to shut down for a period of time, they feel much more prepared to offer quality online learning. On Wednesday afternoons the staff is engaged in learning more about technology tools and learning platforms and they are actively teaching our students how to navigate these platforms so they will be prepared to learn from home.
“All of the resources the teachers are utilizing with their students can provide support for learning at home and at school and are an integral part of our reading and math curriculums,” Johnson said.
St. Paul’s teachers take advantage of these tools, resources and platforms to monitor student progress, provide live instruction and allow for individualization of student learning to excel their skills to meet and exceed grade level standards. Despite unprecedented challenges faced with COVID-19, St Paul’s Lutheran School prays that students continue to have amazing learning and growing experiences throughout the year. One of the school’s goals is to ensure that all students, no matter what type of educational services they receive, stay connected to St. Paul’s Church & School.
St. Paul’s Lutheran School is accepting registrations in all their preschool programs as well as in their K-6th grade classrooms. For more information or to register your child, call at 319-352-1484 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.