‘It’s just unacceptable:’ Reynolds frustrated with Des Moines schools

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on winter plans for COVID-19 testing
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on winter plans for COVID-19 testing
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 3:18 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Gov. Kim Reynolds during a news conference Wednesday expressed frustration with the Des Moines Public School Districts' reluctance to offer at least 50% in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor said 326 of Iowa’s 327 school districts have an approved return to learn plan, while only Des Moines has continued to resist the mandate to provide at least 50% in-person learning. The board did take a step Tuesday toward a hybrid learning model, but there is no date for if or when students will return to the classroom.

“As we see every day, those districts are making it work. So, you know, there are things that need to be done differently because we are in a pandemic,” Reynolds said.

Waivers have been granted to three Iowa schools to provide online-only learning due to public health conditions. All three have plans to return to the classroom in at least a hybrid level.

The governor also mentioned the group of parents who shared their concerns about Des Moines Public Schools not offering in-person learning for students who may need it.

“Earlier this week, a number of parents held a press conference to advocate on behalf of the district’s most vulnerable students; minorities, as well as those with disabilities, and behavioral health issues. They strongly encouraged the school board to move ahead swiftly to get students back in the classroom,” Reynolds said. “My message to the parents of Des Moines is that we will continue fighting for you to get the kids back in the classroom, again, safely and responsibly. But now is the time for your voices to be heard, and so I encourage you to continue to do so.”

Reynolds shared her frustration with the district.

“Every court in which our return to learn guidelines have been challenged has sided with the state,” Reynolds said. “The Des Moines School Board continues to slow walk compliance weeks into the school year at the expense of its 32,000 students, and it’s just unacceptable.”

The governor also talked about her decision on Tuesday to reopen bars in four of six counties that had been shut down due to increasing positive cases among young adults in those counties.

The governor said positivity rates in Dallas County have been decreasing over the last 14 days, while Polk, Black Hawk, Linn and Story counties are stable and Johnson County’s positivity rate is beginning to stabilize.

She said the new proclamation offers clarity on bars opening in Polk, Dallas, Linn and Black Hawk counties. She said that all patrons are required to be seated at properly spaced tables when consuming food or beverage.

The bar ban in Johnson and Story counties is set to expire Sept. 20.

KCCI’s Beau Bowman was at the Wednesday news conference and will have more from the governor on KCCI 8 News and the KCCI Breaking News and Weather App.

See this story on KCCI’s website

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