Gov. Kim Reynolds requires mostly in-person learning at Iowa schools

The governor will require schools to provide at least 50 percent of their core instruction in person, overturning plans of school districts like Iowa City’s which have elected to start the semester fully online.


Katina Zentz

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

Caleb McCullough, Summer Editor

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will require K-12 schools to prioritize in-person learning when the academic year resumes in August, and schools will be required to provide at least half of their core classes in person. 

In a proclamation unveiled Friday, Reynolds set requirements for K-12 schools and outlined situations that would permit a school to take classes online.

Reynolds said the proclamation, which has not been made available in full at the time of publication, makes the following changes for K-12 schools in the state:

  • Directs state agencies, school districts and local governments to prioritize in-person instruction
  • Provides parameters that will allow a school to move to primarily remote learning
  • Permits parents to choose remote learning for their child
  • Requires school districts to get permission from the Department of Public Health and the Department of Education before moving to temporary online instruction
  • Permits schools, in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health and local public health officials, to move individual students or classrooms to temporary online learning
  • Expands the pool of people allowed to work as substitute teachers

Schools around Iowa have been weighing their options on how and when to bring students and teachers back to the classroom. 

“I know that it’s going to require some changes to how things are done in the classroom,” Reynolds said at a press conference Friday where she discussed the proclamation. “But given the importance of education to our children and the people of Iowa, we owe it to them to roll up our sleeves and get our schools back up and running safely and effectively.”

The Iowa City Community School District decided Tuesday that it would be providing online instruction until at least Oct. 1, but this proclamation invalidates that plan and will require the district to change their approach. 

Reynolds said school districts like Iowa City would need to offer a majority of core subjects in the building, and they would have to obtain a waiver from state agencies to move to online instruction. 

Reynolds did not offer what the threshold of cases would be that would require a school to cease in-person instruction, but she said she and public health officials are hoping to have the specifics outlined in the first week of August.

“It’s an example of a place where we do continue to learn more as a global and national community,” State Medical Director Caitlyn Pedati said. “And so looking at what we’ve learned and what we want to pay attention to with regard to this particular virus and its behavior, those are going to be things we continue to do and support we continue to provide.”

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