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Governor: Schools required to have in-person class at least half time

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Gov. Kim Reynolds said schools must provide in-person learning for at least half the instruction time for students this fall, with some exceptions.

“The legislature has made it clear that most schools cannot provide more than half of their instruction to any student through remote learning unless I authorize remote learning in a proclamation,” Reynolds said in a Friday news conference. “As I’ll discuss later today I’m signing a proclamation that sets forth when that will be permissible.”

The governor outlined when schools would be permitted to move to primarily remote learning:

— When parents select remote learning.

— When the Department of Education approves a temporary move to online learning for an entire school building or district in response to public health conditions.

— When a school in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health determines individual students must be temporarily moved to online learning.

The director of the Iowa Department of Education, Ann Lebo, said at the news conference some school districts will need to make “adjustments” to their reopening plans.

“Return-to-learn planning is ongoing and fluid and designed to give school districts the flexibility to ensure high quality education continues, no matter the circumstances,” Lebo said. “So as schools prepare to reopen for in-person learning at the start of the school year, they also have the flexibility to provide remote learning opportunities or a combination of both when needed or if families choose those options.”

Schools were closed in Iowa from mid-March through the end of the 2019–20 school year because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

“Although the decisions about closing schools and staying closed for the remainder of the school year were difficult to make, they were data driven and focused on the best interests of Iowa’s students, families and schools at the time and that’s the same approach that we’re taking to reopening our schools,” Reynolds said.

The governor’s announcement regarding school openings came on a day that Iowa hit an all-time high for newly reported positive cases of the new coronavirus, according to IDPH data. Over the previous 24 hours as of 10 a.m. Friday, the state had reported 879 new cases. The number of deaths rose by five to a total of 782 across the state.

In Carroll County by that same time Friday the number of positive cases rose by three to 126. At least 109 of those have recovered according to health department data, while one person has died.

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