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Return to Learn FAQ

We’ve received many questions regarding our Return to Learn plan and we hope to answer all of your questions in our FAQ. If your question is not answered below, please contact us at  Please continue to check our website for updates, as plans may adjust as we continue to receive more guidance from public health officials.

Last updated: 8/18/20



Elementary/Intermediate: (K-6)

  • Hybrid Option B : Return to school on September 14th via a “soft start” by implementing Hybrid Option B: District Decision for the first two weeks of school. Students will attend school by alternating days 50% on-site and 50% online through September 25th.
  • Hybrid Option A:Return to school via the Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model which will be fully online learning for the remainder of the nine-week quarter. The deadline to apply for Hybrid is August 21st in order to assign staff accordingly. After August 21st, students can still apply for this option, however the district cannot guarantee immediate online placement. Once choosing this option, students will remain on the Hybrid model for the remainder of the quarter.

Middle Schools/High School: (7-12)

  • Hybrid Option B : Return to school on Sept. 14th via Hybrid Option B: District Decision. High School students will attend school by alternating days 50% on-site and 50% online for the quarter.
  • Hybrid Option A:Return to school via the Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model which will be fully online learning for the remainder of the quarter. The deadline to apply for Hybrid is August 21st in order to assign staff accordingly. After August 21st, students can still apply for this option, however the district can not guarantee immediate online placement. Once choosing this option, students will remain on the Hybrid model for the remainder of the quarter.

*In the event the school district must close due to COVID related reasons. The district would move to Exclusive Online Learning. The determination of whether the district exclusively moves to online learning is made by the Iowa Board of Education.

Why did Linn-Mar decide to change to a “soft start” with Hybrid Option B: District Decision?

Our Return to Learn Plan continues to evolve, but our focus remains the same on safety, flexibility and family choice.  We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work through this unique and challenging time.

We made a few updates from our original plan which we released on July 15th. During the last few weeks, the number of COVID cases in Linn County has continued to increase and we’ve revised our plan accordingly.

We are preparing for the start of the school year by offering the safest model allowed by the Governor at this time. It is very possible that we may need to revise the plan again depending on the status of COVID-19 in our community, so we appreciate your flexibility.

What’s the difference between Hybrid Options A and B?

Hybrid Option A is 100% online for students.  Under Hybrid Option B, the district will assign students by last names to attend 50% of the time (every other day). See slide 8 in the Return to Learn plan for more details.


The Hybrid Option B gives us the safest start to the school year.  All schools will start the school year in a District Designated Hybrid A/B model for the first two weeks. The intent would be to return to On-Site plans after Labor Day, but this hybrid model could be extended if the numbers continue to rise.  In this hybrid model students will attend school every other day based on their designation of being in A group or B group.  The schedule for the first two weeks of the school year is shown below:

Return to Learn Plan Hybrid Option B first weeks schedule



Students will be split into A group or B group alphabetically by their last name to ensure families are on the same schedule. Students with a last name that begins with the letters A-K will be assigned to the “A” group.  Students with a last name that begins with the letters L-Z will be assigned to the “B” group.

Hybrid allows for in person learning to take place while also being better able to social distance effectively.  By the time school starts it will have been over five months since school was last in session.  This hybrid model will help that transition back to school for students, families and staff by relieving some of the pressure and uncertainty in returning to school in addition to giving teachers the better opportunity to develop relationships and get to know kids on a personal level by having smaller classes to begin the year.

Why are the Middle Schools and High School doing Hybrid Option B: District Decision all quarter and the rest of the schools are just doing it for the first two weeks?

We have many shared teachers and courses between the middle school and high school, so we needed them to be on the same schedule. This also helps reduce the number of students on-site to help with social distancing.

What is the expectation on the offsite days for students in grades K-6?

There will be no expectation for learning in those offsite days.  Meaning students will only have 5 days of instruction out of the first 10 days of school.

What is the expectation on the offsite days for students in grades 7-12?

They will be expected to log in virtually to their class at the regularly scheduled time.  Meaning that students in grades 7-12 will have daily instruction.

Is the district providing daycare on the Hybrid B model?




Hybrid Option A is 100% online. This online option is technically classified under a Hybrid learning plan because classes are still being offered on-site at the schools. Click here to apply for Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model.

What will online instruction look like for the Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model?

Online instruction will be facilitated by a certified Linn-Mar teacher that has certification to teach that specific course. Attendance will be required and there may be times throughout the day when specific courses are scheduled to meet.  Assignments and feedback will be given by the teacher. There will be some level of peer-to-peer interaction, but this will depend greatly on the course and content. Some courses like Metals: Materials and Processing may not be able to be offered online. We will ensure that core areas (math, English, social studies, and science) are offered.

Is there a deadline to apply for the Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model?  Can I opt-in to the Family Choice Model later? 

The deadline has passed. You will need to apply with a medical reason. Click here to apply for the Family Choice Model 

Can my children participate in on-site activities if they choose the Family Choice Model?

Students will be able to participate in extracurricular activities.  Students will also be able to participate in before or after school activities following the guidelines in the school.  There will be no middle school activities this fall.

Can they still participate in Band/Vocal/Orchestra?

High School: Yes. Students in Hybrid Option A will attend virtual Band/Vocal/Orchestra classes during the school day, but they can participate on-site for before and after school activities.

Middle School: No. Before and after school extracurricular activities are cancelled for the Fall. If they are scheduled in for the Band/Vocal/Orchestra classes during the school day they will join virtually.

Each school building will share more information with families when school resumes.

What schedule will my children have for online learning?

Virtual classes will be split into morning OR afternoon cohorts. More specific information will be provided when your child is assigned an online teacher. Teachers will be reaching out to families with specific schedule and directions for online learning. Linn-Mar Hybrid A Sample online schedules

I see elementary students have specials.  How will that be taught?

Specials including art, music, PE, guidance, and media will be provided as activities to our online teachers and classes.  These won’t be “live” instruction, but rather suggested activities, tasks, and/or lessons that can be accessed virtually.

What will be happening during the individual student support time?

The individual time will be a variety of things.  It can be more directed small group work.  It may be an intervention group, or it might be an extension activity.  This time is designed for our online teachers to provide more guided and individualized instruction to those students in the online class.

What will the teacher collaboration time look like?

This will be time for the online teachers to work with other grade level colleagues, instructional coaches, and/or administrators.

How many students will be in each online class?

For grades K-6, teachers will have 30-50 total students depending on the grade level.  However, students will be grouped in smaller cohorts with half of the students attending in the morning and the other half of students attending in the afternoon.   Grades 7-12 will attend their classes at the regularly scheduled time.

Can I pick if I’m in morning or afternoon class for my child?

No. However, please work with your child’s assigned teacher if there’s a scheduling conflict.

Can I enroll my child in all day virtual instruction morning and afternoon?

No. In order to keep class sizes manageable and meet the recommendations for online learning instruction, students are assigned to ½ day instruction.

Does my child need to be logged in at the assigned time?

Yes. Lessons will be recorded in case students are ill, quarantined, or are unable to participate.

If I choose to do online learning, can I do that all year?


If I choose to do online learning, but then want to come back to the building, when can I do that?

At the start of each quarter.

If I choose to do on-site learning, but then want to switch to online can I do that?

Yes. Here is the link to apply. You will need to provide medical documentation of a health concern.  Please note, if approved it will take several days to secure the teacher and resources before for your child will be enrolled in online learning. You will be contacted once a decision is made.

Can my children pick and choose what classes they attend on-site and what classes they attend online under the Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model?

No.  By selecting the Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model, you are choosing to take all of their courses in an online format. 

Will online courses be taught by a certified teacher? For example, my student is in Spanish, if they do it online will they have an Spanish teacher?

Yes. The State of Iowa requires schools to have teachers licensed in the appropriate content area regardless of whether we are teaching on-site or online. However, we may use a “teacher of record”, meaning that we might have two teachers working on the course instruction together. One that is licensed to provide the content and the other that will be there to help guide students through the online instruction.  

What exactly is a “certified teacher”? (Would my 1st grade student have a 1st grade teacher?)

The State has specific requirements for teacher endorsement. Elementary and intermediate students will be taught by someone with an elementary education endorsement (K-6). Middle school students can be taught by someone with an endorsement of 5-8 or 5-12. High school students will be taught by someone who is endorsed in that particular course. 

Will my child have the same homework and lectures as the students in the school or will this be similar to what happened at the end of last year where the child is really on their own for learning?

The Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model will be more directed than what we did for the end of the last school year. While the instruction may vary from teacher to teacher, the content will be the same. Meaning that students will receive instruction on the same standards that students on-site will receive. However, there may be some courses that we are unable to provide in an online setting.    

Can preschool families choose the Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model?

No. This option is only available for Early Childhood Blended Program (ECBP) and grades K-12. ECBP will start school on September 14th (depending on their A/B allocations). Little Lions will start school on September 15th.

How will lab classes work? (i.e. science labs, etc.)

We will need to address this specific question once our staff returns to work. The Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model is 100% online, so there may have to be alternative work for students in lab classes.

How will other services be provided?  (i.e. LEO, ELL, IEPs, etc.)

Students with special services will continue to receive those services in the Hybrid Plan. These services will still be provided virtually to eligible students.  Special Education has specific rules that will be communicated during the IEP meeting for those families.

How much time will students be in front of the computer screen?

Recommendations for maximum, student direct instructional time is as follows:

GWAEA Digital Learning K

GWAEA Digital Learning 1 2









GWAEA Digital Learning 3 5







GWAEA Digital Learning 6 8








GWAEA Digital Learning 9 12










Click here for additional information and recommendations provided by Grant Wood AEA. 


Can the Superintendent or Board of Education decide to keep the district closed?

Based on the language included in the Governor’s recent proclamation, (July 17th) the answer is no. Iowa public schools have been ordered to open for the fall with in-person, on-site learning. A district may request to keep schools closed, but the State must approve.

Why not require kindergarten and preschool to wear masks?

Initial guidance from the CDC suggested developmentally appropriate language for preschool and kindergarten students in regards to masks.  We now are going to require kindergarteners to wear masks.  Our building principals believe all grades except preschool should wear a mask.

Will you launder student masks?

We do not have the capacity to launder student masks.  Families should make every effort to launder masks at home. 

What’s the plan for children with sensory issues and the required face mask?

This will be determined by the family, student, and special education staff.  

So if a student tests positive does everyone who came in contact with them during classes have to isolate for 14 days? All the teachers and students in each class?

Because of the multitude of scenarios, the Linn County public health will direct us what needs to be done and we will communicate that to families. 

What if my child has to quarantine?  How will parents know if a quarantine is necessary for their child? Will school close if a child tests positive?

Because of the multitude of scenarios, the Linn County public health will direct us what needs to be done and we will communicate that to families.

How will my children’s learning continue if they have covid or if there is a classroom case?

In this case, your child’s absence will be treated like any other absence.  Their classroom teacher will provide them the missed work. 

What if a child develops symptoms during the school day?

Students that develop symptoms for covid during the school day will be assessed in an isolated area by health staff.  Parents will be notified to pick up their child.

How many families have currently elected to take the online option?  Do you have an estimate of how many students will be in the building for the in person learning?  This would be helpful information to have before we are required to make the decision to go in person or online.

Students and families have until Aug. 21st  at 11:59pm to sign up for the online family choice option.  We will have numbers available at that time.  As of August 18th, we have approximately 1,700 students enrolled in Hybrid A.

Will “virtual learning” include LIVE instruction? What are the requirements?

There will be direct instruction for students in virtual learning.  While this won’t be “live recordings”, the teacher will provide instruction.  Students will receive instruction on course or grade level standards.  

How will virtual learning be different between this past spring and this coming fall?

The state has mandated that we must provide instruction regardless of what method of delivery we are operating as a district.  Attendance, participation, and grading are all required in online learning.  Students will receive instruction on course or grade level standards.

Will breakfast and lunch meals be available for students who are learning from home?

Once school starts, Linn-Mar will have curbside pickup meals available for students that are enrolled on-site (Hybrid B) OR the online (Hybrid A: Family choice). Pick-up times and locations will be available soon. All students will be charged for meals according to their eligibility and it will be charged through their student meal account. Click here for meal prices – located on page 14 of the district handbook

How long is Linn-Mar preparing to be in the virtual or modified in-person models?

We will be implementing these models as long as needed to ensure the safety of our students and staff. 

If we do on-site learning, will there be less than 15 or so kids in each classroom? It would be hard to socially distance with a class of 26.

This is why the district has chosen to start in a hybrid model with only 50% of students in attendance. 

Will students be tested to determine which math class they will be enrolled in (i.e., 6th grade math or pre-Algebra)?  If so, when will this test take place and how will it be administered if we choose Hybrid Option A: Family Choice Model?

Yes, the plan is to assess students at the beginning of the year to see readiness for math placement. We will also test students in the Family Choice Model but have yet to finalize logistics for that. We will, however, make sure all students have the opportunity to be assessed. 

What modifications will be made relative to lockers, which are typically shared?

Students are being assigned lockers in a manner that supports social distancing.  

Will district board meetings be held as scheduled?

Board meetings will be in the boardroom of the Learning Resource Center (2999 N 10th Street, Marion). Click here for the schedule of meetings.

In-Person Attendance: If you wish to attend in-person, please park at the north end of the LRC and enter through the door located under the metal awning. Social distancing of six feet and face coverings are required.

YouTube Live Stream: To aid in Phase II social distancing guidelines, the meeting will be available for online, live stream viewing. Check our Board/Policy website and/or social media for upcoming live stream links.

Will the new intermediate buildings, Boulder Peak and Hazel Point, be ready for the new school year

We are still on schedule to open both new schools in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

What about open houses and building tours?

As part of our Return to Learn Plan, we are limiting crowds and restricting the amount of visitors to our buildings. We will not have open houses or building tours for safety reasons.  

When will we learn who our child(ren) will have as teachers?

Once we know how many families are choosing the Family Choice option, we will take a look at our class sizes and numbers.  There may have to be staff changes at the building level. Teacher rosters may not be finalized until the week before school starts. 

Will my child(ren) receive a device?

Yes – PK and kindergarten will receive an iPad and 1st-12th grades will receive a laptop. Device pick-up will be communicated by the school buildings prior to school.

What would make the District adjust their Return to Learn plan?

The District, along with input from Public Health and the Iowa Department of Education, will continue to monitor COVID in our community. The Governor’s proclamation narrowed the District’s choices down to two. The District will select either on-site or a hybrid.

What will you do about school pictures?

We are delaying school pictures until spring.

My child has an IEP.  How will services be provided in the hybrid format?

Click here for a pdf with more information on our Return to Learn plan for students with IEPs. Click here to watch a video from the Executive Director of Student Services further explaining IEPs.

What will Iowa BIG look like?

Iowa BIG will operate under similar guidelines that the schools are using. They are still planning to run their schedule and implement several safety procedures for staff and students. Students and staff may increase virtual options while at Iowa BIG to limit face-to-face interactions. 

What if my question is not answered?

Please email us at Your inquiry will be directed to the proper building or district department.

Remember, our building principals will continue to provide updated information to families. Again, thank you for doing your part as we continue to Inspire Learning, Unlock Potential, and Empower Achievement at Linn-Mar.