Gov. Kim Reynolds extends school closures, suspensions of nonessential businesses until April 30

Gov. Kim Reynolds will extend school closures and the suspension of nonessential businesses until April 30, she announced on Thursday during her daily press conference.

Gov.+Kim+Reynolds+gives+the+Condition+of+the+State+address+at+the+Iowa+State+Capitol+on+Tuesday%2C+January+14%2C+2020.+

Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds gives the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor


Gov. Kim Reynolds announced in a Thursday press conference that she will extend K-12 school closures until April 30, giving school districts the option to implement either voluntary or required continuous learning. 

“I am not ordering schools to close for the remainder of the school year,” Reynolds said Thursday. “We will continue to monitor the situation, assess the measures we have in place, and use data to make the right decisions at the right time.”

Reynolds is also updating the Proclamation of Disaster emergency to extend nonessential business closures and other elective services, including orthodontic procedures, until April 30, and will provide additional regulatory relief.

Director of the Iowa Department of Education Ann Lebo said they are giving public and private school districts a voluntary option and a required option for online and continuous learning. In a voluntary option, schools would encourage students to participate, but cannot require them to do so. Under a required option, students are required to participate, attendance is taken, work is graded, and class credit is granted. 

Schools who choose not to provide required continuous learning will be required to make up lost instruction beyond what the Iowa Legislature waived, Reynolds said.

Lebo said they are still working with school districts to work out exactly what those models would look like. School districts have until April 10 to submit a decision for which route they choose to take.

“We encourage schools to work as quickly as possible on their plans, which may include the delivery of content through online learning, print packets for assignments, or both,” Lebo said.

Reynolds said they will be surveying schools to identify barriers they face in implementing these programs. Reynolds said they are aware that WiFi accessibility tops that list, and said they are working with partners to ensure there are resources in place to help schools with this issue.

Democrats in Iowa’s congressional delegation and in the state Legislature have been calling for Reynolds to issue a shelter-in-place order. Iowa is one of 13 states that has not issued that order, and Reynolds said she is making incremental decisions based on data.

“My challenge out there for individuals who think I haven’t done enough, I would ask them to go and take a look at other states and the recommendations that they’ve put into their stay-at-home — I don’t care what you call it, I’m basing it on data,” Reynolds said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health was notified of 66 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing Iowa’s total to 614 cases. There were two additional deaths, both in Linn County, and more than 8,000 individuals have so far tested negative to the virus.

 

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