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Des Moines board says it will continue with online-only instruction

Sept. 16, 2020
District officials say it isn't safe to offer in-person instruction, but a directive from the governor of Iowa says they must.

Students in the Des Moines (Iowa) district will continue attending virtual classes as a lawsuit against the state and Gov. Kim Reynolds proceeds

The Des Moines Register reports that the school board decided at a meeting Tuesday night to stick with virtual learning. The decision comes one week after a judge denied the district's request for an injunction that would have given it the authority to continue providing online-only learning.

District officials say they will continue to monitor Covid-19 conditions and transition fully to a hybrid model of instruction when they determine conditions are safe to do so.

"We want to protect everyone," Des Moines schools Superintendent Tom Ahart says. "That is our goal."

Several board members who supported keeping classes online say they want schools to reopen as soon as possible, but only if they can ensure the safety of students and staff. 

Des Moines is the only district in Iowa to adopt a 100% online approach to classes this fall, defying a directive from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds that schools provide at least half their instruction in person.

Iowa requires that schools offer at least 50% of classes in person unless the Covid-19 positivity rate is 15% or more for 14 days in the county where the district is situated and school absenteeism is at least 10%.  

It costs Des Moines school $1.5 million a day to operate, and. If it were to continue online-only learning for six to nine weeks, as the district has discussed — and later be required to make up those days — it could cost $45 million to $70 million.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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