Gov. Kim Reynolds encourages schools to transition completely to in-person instruction

In a Wednesday press conference, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds encouraged K-12 schools to open their doors to complete in-person instruction, referencing hopeful data from the World Health Organization.


Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Jan. 14.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds encouraged public schools to transition to in-person instruction beyond the 50 percent minimum established by the state Legislature during a press conference on Wednesday,

Reynolds said the majority of schools in the state have opened their doors to complete in-person learning with layered mitigation efforts.

Referencing data from the World Health Organization, Reynolds said the numbers have shown that outbreaks are less likely to occur among children, and that children are less likely to spread the virus to other people.

According to the WHO, school outbreaks and the introduction of COVID-19 are more likely to be caused by adult personnel. The study says that children under the age of 10 are less susceptible to the virus, and that “early modelling studies suggested that closing schools reduced community transmission less than other social distancing interventions.”

The report also says that studies were limited during school closures and stay at home orders, and that the WHO is learning more as schools begin to reopen.

Reynolds said the data being reported from schools to the Iowa Department of Education is consistent with data from the WHO.

Reynolds signed a bill in the spring that mandates schools to open to at least 50 percent in-person instruction, with a waiver system available for individual schools. Reynolds said the Legislature might take further measures to ensure schools can open when the session begins in January.

Reynolds said the state is continuing to see a downward trend in COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates, and through a national partnership between the federal government and pharmacy chains, Iowa will receive about 100 additional nurses to be assigned throughout the state to work in hospitals until the end of the December.

Reynolds also announced an initiative by MercyOne, which established an Iowa COVID-19 hospital transfer line to better assist hospitals with transferring patients to different facilities.

MercyOne CEO Bob Ritz said the difficulty of transferring patients has been remarkably different, and this comprehensive approach can help ease the burden from hospitals in trying to find an available bed for a patient. Ritz said all hospitals have to do is call the MercyOne hospital transfer line for assistance.

Reynolds said she is extending her disaster proclamation to Dec. 16 with little changes, so bars and restaurants will have to continue mitigation measures and closing at 10 p.m.


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