Iowa Teachers’ Union Calls Governor’s Latest Return to Learn Plan ‘Outlandish’

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Des Moines, Iowa — The largest union representing Iowa teachers, professors and educational professionals says it rejects guidelines laid out by Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Education.

According to that guidance, schools won’t be able to switch to 100% online learning during the school year unless the positive test rate for every county a school district serves tops 20% and 10% of students are absent due to illness. The Iowa State Education Association says the new guidance does not take the health of children into account enough.

The group released the following statement on Thursday:

The ISEA rejects Governor Reynolds outlandish notion of what constitutes minimal, moderate and uncontrollable spread of COVID-19. Instead, we will continue to listen to world health experts, scientists and specialists who tell us that counties with extensive testing should be at a positivity of 5% or lower before it’s safe to reopen schools.

Most importantly we are not just talking about numbers as we look at this decision. We are talking about children’s lives and the lives of the educators, school employees and the families who are affected. If in fact a 20% positivity rate is the point at which our schools can ask for permission to close school buildings for 14 days, that means that 1 in 5 Iowans will need to test positive and perhaps experience severe to drastic consequence’s before we can take the steps necessary to protect the health and safety of our students, educators, and school communities.

We can do better. The ISEA Executive Board adopted requirements which must be put in place for the safe return for in-person learning. Among those are three key points: the Covid-19 pandemic is under control in the community; specific protections have been put in place to keep the virus under control and protect students and staff; and plans are in place to ensure continuous learning for all students

Mike Beranek, President, Iowa State Education Association

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