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ANKENY, Iowa — Monday night, the Ankeny Community School District is holding a Back to School Forum to discuss COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the upcoming school year. 

“We wanted to take an opportunity just to one on one, walk people through this because it can be confusing,” Communications Director for the district, Samantha Aukes said. “We just want to bring folks together and have this conversation to help them understand what entering the school year will look like.”

In Iowa, it is illegal for school districts to mandate masks and according to Iowa’s Department of Education, this school year districts cannot offer a hybrid model or 100% virtual learning unless given permission by the governor’s disaster proclamation. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health is not issuing quarantine orders for positive cases in schools or for exposed individuals, nor is IDPH requiring schools to perform contact tracing. 

However, IDPH is still asking schools to report when more than 10% of students are absent due to illness and notify parents when their child is exposed to COVID-19. 

The Department of Education does allow districts to offer an online option for students.  Schools that have taken advantage of this include Des Moines Public Schools, Ames, Waukee, and Ankeny. All of these districts have extended an online learning option to elementary students, who are not eligible for the vaccine. 

At Monday night’s event, Ankeny will host a Q&A session and parents will be invited to break out into groups with their building principal to address plans for the individual schools and to provide feedback.  

Aukes said the district wants parents to have a say in their child’s safety in school. 

“In addition to the mitigation procedures that we’re pursuing, there are additional measures beyond that can be taken. So parents can request accommodations for their children at any point of the school year to help keep them safe, to help keep them healthy,” Aukes said. 

The Back to School Forum will be held at Southview Middle School at 6:30 p.m. It will also be streamed on Youtube

Ankeny will have finalized return to learn plans after the school board meeting on August 17th. The first day of school for students in the district is August 23rd.