DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds was joined by other state officials Thursday at the State Capitol to outline more details about Iowa’s “Return to Learn” plans for schools.
The governor’s earlier mandate outlined that schools have at least 50% of in-classroom instruction in four main subjects. Thursday’s news conference went over some of the guidelines the Iowa Department of Education would use to determine if or when that mandate could be relaxed and allow schools to provide more online instruction.
The recommendations are based on the community transmission data for COVID-19.
If the county’s positivity rate remains between 0-5% on average over 14 days, the Return to Learn model identifies there should be “On-Site Learning following, DOE, IDPH and CDC guidance.” It also allows Hybrid Learning “as necessary,” based on the preference of the parent or guardian and student quarantine.
When the positivity rate is between 6-14% over the past 14 days the recommendations remain the same, but addition suggested strategies should be used. Some of those suggestions are reducing group events/gatherings, limiting inter-school interactions, and ensuring student and staff groupings/cohorts are as static as possible and limiting interaction between groups of students and staff.
If the rate positivity rate is between 15-20% and there are is also 10% absenteeism for students that are attending classes in person, districts have the option to continue with hybrid learning. But they can also ask the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health for permission to transition to 100% online learning temporarily. That could be for an entire school building or the whole district.
Once the positivity rate has gone above 20% the guidance is to go to temporary continuous/remote learning for an entire school building or district. That must be approved by the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health.