Ann Lebo

Some of Iowa’s K-12 students may soon be required to participate in online classes during school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iowa Department of Education will fast-track requests from school districts and non-public schools for what the agency calls “continuous learning” plans.

“We all know how important it is for Iowa students to continue to learn during the COVID-19 emergency,” Iowa Department of Education director Ann Lebo says. “…Even though schools are not required to offer learning opportunities when they are closed, they are certainly able and encouraged to do so as they consider the needs of the families and the learners they serve.”

The new guidelines allow schools to issue grades for homework and to give students this semesters’ credits for courses completed online. Schools must consider how all students may access online courses.

“The role of the Department of Education is to ensure we maintain a minimum standard of care,” Lebo says, “while allowing the maximum opportunity for growth through flexibility at the local level.”

Some Iowa school districts are delivering homework packets to students. Lebow says others are providing one electronic device to each student and finding ways to ensure all students have access to WiFi.

“Innovation at this time of uncertainty is important,” Lebo says.

Governor Kim Reynolds has recommended that schools close through April 12th. However, it’s likely Iowa schools will remain closed for the entire month of April. Last night, President Trump extended federal social distancing guidelines until April 30th.