Des Moines Parents, Teachers Worry About Classes Potentially Moving In-Person

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Parents and teachers at Des Moines schools are worried about what school will look like in the coming weeks, after a Polk County judge denied a request for an injunction to do online learning Tuesday.

Karen Miglin, who has a son at Roosevelt High School, said it has been frustrating watching the battle between the state and school district draw out.

“I’m really disappointed. I know there’s no perfect answer, there’s so many people with so many different issues for their students and it’s very polarizing,” she said. “But I think about how the district is doing their best to make the best decision for the health and safety of not only their students but their faculty and staff.”

Natalie Niemeyer, a teacher at East High School, said she was shocked by the news — especially after having a “successful” first day of online classes.

“The teachers I spoke to today talked about high engagement with the students and their classes. I had amazing attendance today,” she said.

Niemeyer said she is nervous about the prospect of returning back to the classroom, but trusts the district will continue making decisions in the best interest of the community.

 “I have a lot of faith in the people who are running our district, I know they are seeing this from every angle and thinking about all the possibilities,” she said.

In an email to parents and faculty, DMPS said the district will continue online learning until further notice, and that these school days will count toward students’ credits.

“Until further notice, classroom instruction will continue online for most DMPS students. While this has not been made clear to the public, the credit earned through virtual learning does count for individual students, and schoolwork completed online is applied towards grades and attendance. 

Superintendent Thomas Ahart, Des Moines Public Schools

However, Gov. Kim Reynolds has said that is not the case.

“Schools that choose not to return to school for at least 50% in person instruction are not defying me, they’re defying the law,” Reynolds said on Aug 4. “If schools move primarily to remote learning without approval, according, again, to the law. Those days do not count towards instructional time.”

WHO 13 News reached out to the Iowa Department of Education for clarification on whether DMPS students will receive credit, but did not receive a direct answer.

Our Return to Learn Plan provides a lot of flexibility in how schools can meet the requirements outlined in state law while ultimately providing parents the choice of what’s best for their child. As many school districts already have, we believe Des Moines Public Schools can meet these requirements and we can work together to ensure Return-to-Learn plans support the many needs of our students, families and communities. We are committed to working with DMPS to welcome students safely back to the classroom. 

Heather Doe, Director Of Communications – Iowa Department of Education

Parents like Miglin said it’s confusing and concerning. She is especially concerned about the high schools classrooms, as many are large in size and difficult to social distance.

“I don’t know. Everything is up in the air,” she said. “Especially parents with high schooler students, are these credits counting toward their graduation?”

In the meantime, the district will continue online learning.

“For us we’re just kind of waiting to find out what’s going to happen and what direction we’re going to go,” Niemeyer said. “They will do whatever we can to make sure we continue to keep people safe and healthy.”

The Des Moines school board will meet Wednesday in a closed door meeting to discuss next steps.

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