Iowa schools to close for rest of academic year

Gov. Kim Reynolds. [File photo]
Tyler Anderson
The Graphic-Advocate Editor

While school districts across Iowa were optimistic on reopening at the end of April and the beginning of May, the ongoing COVID-19 situation has other plans.

In her announcement made on Friday morning at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Reynolds proclaimed that schools would remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year.

“I said that I would assess the situation two weeks out to the April 30 date and provide further guidance on the possibility of reopening before the end of this regularly scheduled school year,” Reynolds said in her daily press conference. “I can’t tell you with certainty, based on the Department of Public Health’s data that they’re providing to our office, that early May will be the right time for students, teachers and staff to gather again in their classrooms.”

“Therefore, I regret to say that Iowa schools will not reopen for this school year,” Reynolds added.

However, Reynolds encouraged schools to continue conducting distance learning and online classes for the remainder of the school year.

Reynolds made the initial announcement to close schools on March 15, and extended the closures on April 2. The Des Moines Public Schools shifted to distance learning and online classes on April 8.

“Closing schools through the end of the year is not an easy decision, and we do know of the challenges that this creates,” said Dr. Ann Lebo, the Director of the Iowa Department of Education. “We also know that this decision is necessary to ensure the health and safety of those we serve.”

The announcement also officially ends a potential spring sports season, as track & field and golf practices were scheduled to begin on May 1. The first contests were slated for May 4.

“We will provide more information by June 1 about the summer sports seasons,” Lebo said.

Dr. Lebo also ordered school districts to design and submit a “Return to Learn” plan to the Iowa Department of Education by July 1.

Before the announcement, Iowa schools were projected to be open on April 30. While there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 in Calhoun County, 82 other counties have reported positive cases, including nearby Carroll and Webster counties.

As of press time, Iowa has had more than 3,100 total confirmed cases with nearly 25,900 people tested and 79 total deaths. Of those confirmed cases, more than 1,200 people have recovered from COVID-19.


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