At least two suburban school districts in Dallas County gave signs Monday night of their willingness to defy guidance Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued July 30 and start their fall terms with all-online learning.
The school boards of the Waukee Community School District and Urbandale Community School District each voted unanimously Monday to disregard the state’s return-to-learn guidance for infection thresholds.
The Urbandale School Board voted at its Monday meeting to continue virtual learning despite the rejection of their waiver request by the Iowa Department of Education, which ordered students at Urbandale’s Rolling Green Elementary School to resume in-person classes by Friday.
Waukee School Board President Wendy Liskey said neither “the Waukee School District Board of Education nor the superintendent will be following the guidance set forth July 30. We will not request permission from the Iowa Department of Education to temporarily change our learning model should the need arise.”
The Waukee School Board will vote Aug. 10 to make its decisions regardless of state law.
Reynolds’ July 17 proclamation directed all Iowa schools to hold at least 50% of their core academic instruction in person. Reynolds released additional guidance Thursday requiring each school district to continue with onsite instruction until its county reaches a positive coronavirus test rate of at least 15% and the school district itself reaches at least 10% absenteeism, and then the district can ask for a state waiver to transition to full online learning.
Calling Reynolds’ July 30 guidance “outlandish,” Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek said the teachers union “will continue to listen to world health experts, scientists and specialists who tell us that counties with extensive testing should be at a positivity of 5% or lower before it’s safe to reopen schools.”
Reynold’s statewide clout appears weakened. A recent survey produced by researchers at Harvard, Northeastern, Northwestern and Rutgers universities found reduced approval of the way most U.S. governors are handling the coronavirus outbreak. At 28% approval, Reynolds has the lowest approval rate of any governor in the nation, down from 52% in May.
“Ultimately, school district officials may need to ignore Reynolds,” an Aug. 1 editorial in the Des Moines Register said.