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'I'm not a teacher': Parents worry remote learning is causing kids to fall behind

Nearly all of Iowa's 99 counties have an average 14-day positivity rate above 15% right now, the threshold set by the state for schools to move to online learning.

DES MOINES, Iowa — For two weeks, Andrea Carlson’s son Joe has been learning from home because he was exposed to COVID-19 in his classroom.

"I worry about kids, not just Joe, but kids just like Joe who takes them a while to learn stuff,” Carlson said.

Joe has special needs, and Carlson said it’s been very difficult to keep him focused while at home.

“I'm not a teacher," Carlson said. "I'm definitely not a special ed teacher. I don't have those qualifications. I'm a mom, and I have a lot of love in my heart, but that can only go so far sometimes. I worry. I worry about what this year will look like for him long term."

Carlson isn’t alone.

Nearly all of Iowa's 99 counties have an average 14-day positivity rate above 15%. 

Schools in 94 counties are eligible to apply for two-week waivers from the state to temporarily shift to remote learning models.

The data listed on the Iowa Department of Education's website, which appears to have not been updated since last week, shows 42 districts in Iowa were granted waivers from the state allowing them to move either the entire district or some of their buildings to remote learning models.

That is about 9% of all Iowa schools. 

Local 5's Rachel Droze did reach out to the Department of Education for updated figures, but as of 5 p.m., we're still waiting to hear back from them. 

Bill Gould has a first grader and a four-year-old in pre-k at the Johnston Community School District, which is one of the districts currently under a remote learning waiver

Gould said he understands why the kids moved online in the district but said the quick transition was frustrating.

"Trying to do pre-k — he's got three Zoom meetings that he's supposed to be on every day," Gould said. "As you can imagine, for a 4-year-old, it's very difficult to keep their attention."

RELATED: Parents concerned about quality of special education if distance learning is required

Gould said he’s worried his kids may start falling behind.

"It's tough for them to go back and forth from in-person to online to hybrid,” Gould said. “You're kind of ramping yourself up to get ready for what it's going to be like and then it changes again."

Gould said his family is lucky. While both he and his wife work, their employers are being very flexible at this time. 

Gould said he imagines that's not the case with all employers out there. 

And as cases continue to rise, both Gould and Carlson anticipate this won’t be the last time their kids will be learning from home.

One high school teacher said remote learning isn't ideal for some of his students. 

"There are students who are ready and prepared for independent learning, and there are a lot of students who are not prepared and ready for independent learning and can't handle it yet," Waukee High School teacher Chris Kannapel said. 

On the bright side, Kannapel said this online learning experience will get high school seniors ready for remote learning scenarios many will see in college. 

The Iowa Department of Education published resources for parents to help with remote learning. 

There is a section breaking down help by subject. 

The state also has sections to help early learners, English learners, gifted learners and learners with special needs

Click/tap here to access those resources. 

RELATED: Urbandale CSD cancels Monday high school classes due to rising virus hospitalizations

RELATED: Tonight: Gov. Reynolds to give statewide address on COVID-19

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