Virtual Learning:What We Know


Emily West, Staff Writer

With what is happening this year with COVID-19, it is no surprise that we are going into hybrid or virtual learning this upcoming term. But do we really know what is going on with virtual schooling? Here are some answers to questions you may be wondering about the school year with the help from Ben Graeber, principal at North High, and Karin Mills, a virtual counselor at Virtual Campus.

Ben Graeber = BG
Karin Mills = KM

Q: What is the first day of virtual learning going to look like?
“North has 1,450 students, about 540 have decided to do Virtual Campus and then about 900 have chosen to do Hybrid. Virtual students are going to have the same experience. Virtual students should expect that term 2 looks like term 1. That term 2 has the four class periods … The one big change is that there is a chance you are going to have a North, Hoover, East, and a Lincoln teacher… We are sending like 12 teachers to Virtual Campus.”
KM: “I’m hoping actually on the student side it should be a fairly smooth transition for you guys since you already have been working online and working virtually… really should be fairly similar, nothing too drastic.”


Q: Will students be able to change from Hybrid to Virtual or Virtual to Hybrid during term 2?
“I think it will probably be a survey around Thanksgiving [for Term 3]… I will not be surprised though if we all end of Virtual this winter… if the virus gets worse or Polk County gets worse.”
KM: “You would have to wait until the end of the term.”


Q: Who do you need to contact if you are going to miss class?
“You will be on Infinite Campus 99% Virtual and 1% a North student. When you are sick you will need to contact Virtual Campus… there will be an associate principal [Steven Leib] and a counselor [Laura Negrete Reinders] who are headed over to Virtual Campus so those individuals are going to be like your contacts.”
KM: “I would say reaching out to your counselor is always a good first contact if you’re not sure, and they can always direct you.”

Contact Information for who was mentioned from
Laura Negrete Reinders (Counselor) – Email: [email protected]
Steven Leib (Associate Principal)Phone Number: 515-242 7200 Email: [email protected]


Q: Are there any concerns for students’ screen time in which it affects their health and if so, what are your plans to keep the wellness of the students?
“One thing we noticed starting in early September was that when we were visiting classes as administrators that teachers were using the entire time and that really wasn’t the way it was designed to be. It was designed to be used 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes than release the students to go do more work they need to do…  If I was a student I would make Virtual school work for me and if I needed to be in every class to be successful I would be there.”
KM: “I will tell you that one of the things I always encourage to my students is to build in breaks.”


Q: Do students still qualify for things like Upward Bound or Science Bound?
“I know that they are not ending, I mean Science Bound is one of the most successful programs Des Moines Pubic Schools that we’ve ever seen… we’re not going to let it go away.”
KM: “Since you are still tied to your home school, all of that should still be through your home schools.”


Q: Can Students still do things like newspaper, robotics, band, or orchestra when being in Virtual learning with North?
“You will be on Infinite Campus 99% Virtual and 1% a North student. In my mind, there is no reason that we can’t.”


Q: Will we be following the schedule/calendar as Hybrid schools?
“Yeah, should be on the exact same.”


Q: What will credits look like for students?
“There should be no difference. If you took all four classes term 1 and passed them all you should get 1.5 credits.”
KM: “You would earn the same amount of credits you would through for a whole semester.”


Q: Are we going to be in our home school’s yearbook, or do we now have a Virtual yearbook?
“Yes, absolutely still connected to their home schools… even if the whole rest of the year every one of those students stayed virtual you are a Polar Bear. That’s who you are and that’s how we are going to celebrate it.”


Q: Will there be things still like school proms and if so, where do the Virtual students fit in, they go to their original home schools’ dances or do they have a separate dance?BG: “It depends on how the next three months go, the next four months go, like if we go back and people start getting sick and we get into the winter months and the data isn’t good, there is no way we will be allowed to do a prom, but I am also a creative person who does not like to give up so if its the spring and we can plan an outdoor event and we can block off our yard or our parking lot and get some speakers out there and do something safely and dance in our own little six foot areas why not, I think we should try.”


Q: Will all seniors graduate virtually or with the rest of our senior classes at our home schools?
BG: “100% a North student” Graeber
KM: “They would graduate with their home schools.”


Q: When seniors are filling things out like the FASFA, do they still fill it out as the home school being for our schools’? For example North, or do they now put Virtual? BG: “Students can always submit a transfer request and you can do that through the North website to get your transcripts.”
KM: “All of that would be through your home school as well.”


Q: Are there any questions you have gotten that you would like to clear up now for what is going to and is happening that I did not mention? Is there any other thing you would like to add before we are done?
“Virtual Campus is about ready to be the largest high school in the state of Iowa… I want families and students to know that we’re going to keep pushing messages in School CNXT because it translates and it’s really helpful with 40 different home languages so the messages are going to keep coming every couple of days.”
KM: “I know that this is stressful for everybody, and I know there’s a lot of anxiety caused by not knowing, but please know that we all care about you guys a lot and we want what’s best for our students, and we’re here to support you, so don’t ever hesitate to reach out.”

If there are still questions that were missed here, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask the staff of Virtual Campus or your home school.