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DMPS Moves Ahead with Hybrid Learning as COVID Cases Climb

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  In a special work meeting Wednesday, a doctor advised the Des Moines School Board about what they should expect from the virus in the next few weeks.

Two-hundred and 15 positive cases per 100,000 people, puts Des Moines Public Schools in the red zone and according to these metrics that were approved by the school board, qualifies students for full virtual learning.

Right now DMPS has a 9.5% positivity rate and qualify for the hybrid learning model. But this is just a half of a percent away from qualifying for full virtual learning.

Student absenteeism and staff absenteeism both land in the full in-person category at 4.19% and 3.5%. But they both need to reach just 5% to qualify for the hybrid model.

A local doctor said these numbers are only expected to go up.

“Right now, Polk County I believe is averaging about 140 new cases a day, that is on trend to double around the week before Thanksgiving if we do not see a substantial change in direction which I don’t anticipate,” Aperlo Statistical Consulting CEO Dr. Meg Schaeffer said.

Elementary students are now a week and a half into the hybrid learning model and the middle schoolers are now in their first week. High school students don’t make the switch until November 10th.

Even as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the state, Dr. Schaeffer said schools are not super spreaders. However, she said when community spread is high it will have an impact on schools over time.

Despite the surge in numbers, some school board members want to still give the hybrid model a fair shot.

“There’s nothing at this point that would compel me to change my position with regard to the hybrid model that is currently in place and is progressing… certainly if there is something happening at a building level or at a classroom level where we have the ability to mitigate then that’s what we should be doing,” Des Moines Public Schools Board Member Teree Caldwell-Johnson said.

The Board meets every first and third Tuesday of the month and will be going over the state, community, and school metrics and trends each meeting.

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