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Johnson County health manager ‘not surprised’ state denied Iowa City schools’ online learning request

The Iowa Department of Education said the Iowa City Community School District can’t go back full-time to online learning.
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 9:41 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Students and staff at the Iowa City Community School District will find themselves back inside the classroom more, following a state ruling.

In a waiver sent to the state last Tuesday, the district asked to switch back to learning online due to the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate.

“I think we’re not too surprised by the states denial,” Sam Jarvis, the Community Health Division Manager for Johnson County Public Health, said.

The Iowa Department of Education said the district can’t go back full-time to online learning, a denial Jarvis wasn’t surprised about.

“We know that given the states threshold, we were on the lower end,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis said the county’s current positivity rate is 13%, two percent shy from states criteria of 15% that could justify online learning.

One Iowa City parent said he’s ready for the waivers to stop.

“I don’t think there’s an urgent situation at this point to keep sending in waivers over and over,” Brian Joens, a parent in the district, said.

The district has sent in multiple waivers to the state throughout the school year requesting to stay online. This is the first online request denied so far. Joens said he’s ready to see the choice be left to the students and parents.

“There’s a lot of kids that are at home during the day and that are struggling. Those people, those families, need to have a choice to give their kid to get an equal opportunity education,” Joens said.

As of Monday, the district has 93 students and 13 staff members currently COVID-19 positive, with 338 students currently quarantining due to exposure. The district currently serves more than 14,000 students, according their website.

Jarvis added that getting school staff vaccinated is an important step in getting kids back in person full-time. Until then, the county will support the schools in any way they can.

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