DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Friday that Iowa schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year due to the novel coronavirus global pandemic.
“We still haven’t actually peaked at this point,” Reynolds said, “so we just aren’t going to be where we need to be by May 1.”
Reynolds said her decision was based on recommendations from the Iowa Department of Public Health and is intended to ensure the health and safety of Iowa students, teachers, school administrators and other school staff.
The governor, joined by Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo, announced that the state of Iowa will:
- Waive instructional time requirements for the remainder of the 2019-2020 regularly scheduled academic year for schools that continue to provide continuous learning through one of two approved options, either voluntary educational enrichment opportunities or required educational services or a combination of the two.
- Require schools to submit a Return to Learn Plan to the Iowa Department of Education by July 1, outlining ways they will address disruptions to learning as a result of COVID-19. The plan could include summer school, enrichment activities or other opportunities to address the needs of learners.
- Waive the requirement that schools start no earlier than Aug. 23, allowing school districts and nonpublic schools to make local decisions about the length of their 2020-2021 academic year.
The governor had previously ordered schools to close through April 30. All of Iowa’s 327 public school districts, as well as 179 nonpublic schools, currently offer continuous learning through one of the approved continuous learning options outlined above. Continuous learning encompasses a variety of approaches used to extend learning beyond brick and mortar buildings — online learning, e-learning, distance learning, including paper packets, and virtual learning.
Lebo said school buildings will remain closed through the end of the school year except for approved meals site locations participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program and those providing temporary emergency childcare.
Reynolds said that in spite of shuttered schools, “continuous learning opportunities across Iowa are in full swing” for students learning online at home.
Lebo said everyone involved in education in Iowa is coping with “a new way of learning and of life,” and students are adapting to “the increasingly digital world they live in.”
Lebo thanked the school teachers and superintendents across Iowa for their patience and diligence in the face of the unprecedented circumstances.