DES MOINES, Iowa — With the school year for most Iowa students beginning next month, local districts are finalizing COVID-19 mitigation strategies to keep students and staff safe.
Des Moines Public Schools acknowledges with over 30,000 students, the district won’t be able to ensure that students practice social distancing during the entire school day. So the district is encouraging families and staff to get vaccinated, if eligible before the school year begins.
“I think all of us are starting to sound like a broken record on that issue, but that is the surest way to make sure that this is going to be a healthy and safe school year,” Director of Communications, Phil Roeder said.
In a blog sent to parents, DMPS said it will continue to improve air circulation throughout schools, maintain the 5,000 hand sanitizer dispensers that were added last year in the district, enhance day-to-day cleaning efforts and replace water fountains with bottle filling stations.
DMPS said it’s important to keep in mind that school districts can no longer require students and staff to wear masks or choose to transition to virtual classes without approval from the Iowa Board of Education. Roeder said it’s in the state’s hands to handle COVID-19 outbreaks in schools this upcoming year.
“We’re going to try to be as flexible as we can, but people need to realize that we can only do so much now. Here within the state of Iowa, school districts have a lot of limitations on them. And we’re going to try to work as well as we can with our families to meet needs,” Roeder said.
Johnston and Waukee school districts will both have school board meetings next week to discuss their COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the upcoming school year.