GC school board discusses commencement ceremony, voluntary learning

Robert Maharry
The Grundy Register

GRUNDY CENTER- The Grundy Center school board weighed options for a rescheduled commencement ceremony in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and discussed the decision to keep its distance-learning program voluntary during a special meeting held via teleconferencing last Wednesday.


As the original commencement date of May 17 is out of the question due to social distancing guidelines and restrictions on large gatherings, the two primary dates mentioned as possibilities were May 30 and June 20. The May date would accommodate two graduating seniors who are leaving for the military, but most other districts in the area have pushed their ceremonies back to June.


High School Principal Michael Vokes explained that the pandemic had created an agonizing dilemma for staff members and seniors.


“We wish we could just do it on (May) 17 and do it the way we usually do, but it’s just not possible in this day and age. So we’re trying to do the next best alternative,” Vokes said.


A survey of parents indicated that 68 percent supported moving the ceremony back to June. No official decision was made, but the board is expected to reconvene after Governor Kim Reynolds provides further guidance on May 15.


Later in the meeting, the board went in-depth on its decision to keep distance-learning voluntary even as other districts in the area have revised their original policies to require learning for high school students. Vokes explained that with some students lacking Internet access and having varying family obligations, the district’s continuous learning task force had opted to stay with a voluntary approach.


Board member Al Kiewiet stressed the importance of communicating the reasoning behind the move with the public to avoid the impression that the decision was made flippantly.


Superintendent Robert Hughes commented that ultimately, the well being of students came first.


“The reality is each day we learn something new and different, and we want to make sure whatever we do is grounded in strong practices for our kids,” he said.


Technology Director Bob Munson added that just because other districts are moving to required learning doesn’t necessarily mean that teachers and staff members at Grundy Center are doing less to educate students.


“With no rulebook and unfair playing fields with regard to technology, I think it’s the right decision,” Board President Andy Lebo said.


In honor of National Teacher Week, Hughes also commended Grundy Center teachers for their continued efforts throughout the year and especially since the pandemic began, praising their “true commitment and dedication to students while they can’t come into the building.”



·      Approved the school calendar for 2020-2021 with a tentative starting date of August 19.

·      Approved the ending of the 2019-2020 school year on May 22 with the minimum hours met.


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