Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ottumwa Online?
The Ottumwa Community School District provides a fully accredited virtual learning school for students and families who prefer to access their learning through the Internet and a personal computer outside the school setting. Content is locally developed, aligned to the Iowa Core Standards, provided by local certified teachers, and is tuition free.

What courses are available?
Ottumwa’s Virtual School mirrors the courses offered within our schools including access to Indian Hills Community College concurrent enrollment classes. All content and grade level courses are aligned to the Iowa Core.

  • PK-5 grade level content includes:  Literacy, Math, Science, Social Studies, and online art, music, digital safety/media skills, and physical education opportunities.
  • Secondary courses include:  English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and a variety of electives

How will my child access the online learning?
Each student will receive a Chromebook, charger, and computer bag for use during the school year. Ottumwa Online students must have access to reliable wifi.

Will my child have a teacher(s)?
Yes. Local certified teachers are responsible for the content and grade level courses.

  • Elementary students will be assigned a grade level teacher.
  • Secondary students will interact with content specific teachers. Additional academic supports for special programs and electives will also be provided.

Will students receive training on how to access the online learning?
Yes. Training videos or information are available on the website on the following topics: 

  • How to use a learning management system
  • How to access technology assistance
  • How to problem solve wifi access
  • How to access ongoing grades/student progress
  • How to access final grades
  • How to contact teachers

How many classes can a virtual student take? 
Students must enroll in 5 courses a semester to be a full-time student. Consider the following to be a recommendation on credits earned by the end of each year:

  • 12 by the end of freshman year
  • 25 by the end of sophomore year
  • 34 by the end of junior year 

What is the length of the virtual classes? 
Elementary terms are arranged in trimesters, while secondary terms are arranged in semesters.  Grades/student progress is reported at the end of each term. 
On a daily basis, the length of time spent online or working on academic projects fluctuates with the grade level of the student. The district has set maximum minutes per grade that are developmentally appropriate. Online school days are typically much shorter than face to face days.

Do virtual students still get the same holiday breaks as a traditional classroom student?
Yes. Virtual Learning students will follow the same school calendar as the traditional classroom student.

Where can students and parents access grades?
During the semester parents and students can access student grades via their learning management system.  Once the term is over, parents and students may access final grades on Powerschool. 

Can my student attend any college or university after graduating from an online school?
Yes. Students completing graduation requirements/credits will graduate with an Ottumwa Community School District high school diploma.

What does communication look like from teacher to student in an online setting?
Communication can be received in a variety of ways such as through discussions, messages, emails, phone calls, video conferencing, or face to face by appointment during teacher’s office hours.Students will participate in whole class, small group, and individual digital sessions as appropriate for the course content and student needs.

How much time is spent online?
Time spent online varies by grade level. Lower elementary students can expect to spend 90 to 120 minutes per day and upper elementary students 120 to 180 minutes per day. Students in grade 6 will spend a maximum of 220 minutes a day online/learning. Students in grades 7-12 will spend a maximum of 270 minutes a day online/learning.

What if my student needs extra help?
There are many ways in which additional support is provided:

  • Meet with teacher/counselor during set office hours/make an appointment
  • Academic Counselor available
  • Video conference meetings 
  • Collaboration opportunities with other students

Do virtual learning students have to take state and district wide assessments?
Yes, all students are required to take part in district and state required assessments. Some assessments must be taken on site within the district.  Information regarding assessment expectations will be shared by building administrators. 

Will Special Education, English Language, and/or Talented and gifted (TAG) Services be provided to Virtual Learning students?

Yes. Students eligible for special programs will receive special education, English as second language, or talented and gifted programming in the online setting. 

Will virtual students receive a student ID?
Yes, your student will receive a Student ID.

How will a virtual student be able to participate in sports or activities?

In order to participate in sports/activities, the student must be enrolled as a full-time student. The student will participate for their home school according to their address. This student may participate in up to two sports/activities at their home attendance high school annually.

What activities qualify?
Qualifying activities include interscholastic athletics, music, drama, etc. Extracurricular activities are defined as those school-based activities that are not tied to the curriculum. Co-curricular activities are those activities outside of but usually complementing the regular curriculum.

Who do I contact for questions and more information about Ottumwa Online?
Mary Kister is the contact for Ottumwa Online learning, PK-12. 

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: 641-684-6597, x66110
  • Office:  1112 N. Van Buren, Ottumwa IA 52501