The Iowa businesses that Governor Kim Reynolds ordered to close last month must remain closed during the month of April.
“I am also ordering that school closures are extended through April 30th,” she said this afternoon at her daily news conference. “Keeping Iowa students out of classrooms is a very difficult decision — but it remains necessary for now.”
Schools, by law, will have to make up classes missed after April 12th unless they come up with plans to conduct classes online or by distributing, collecting and grading paper copies of homework.
“At this time I am not ordering schools to close for the remainder of the school year,” Reynolds said. “…That said, it is also important that Iowa schools do their part to provide continuous learning opportunities for their students and so many school districts have already taken the initiative to do just this.”
School districts must submit their plans for virtual learning — or plans for summer school — to the state by Friday, April 10.
“There are a number of ways that schools can continue to engage students during this time and it’s each district’s responsibility to do so,” Reynolds said.
Iowa Department of Education director Ann Lebo said schools may submit different plans for different grade levels.
“The recommendation to close schools through April 30th was not made lightly and we know the challenges that this decision puts on our schools and families,” Lebo said. “During these unprecedented times, we remain focused on supporting our schools, families and community partners to ensure Iowa learners are safe healthy, engaged and prepared.”
Lebo said state officials understand that uniform, consistent access to WiFi is a barrier for online classes in some districts.
“We are working with Governor Reynolds, Iowa’s AEAs and other partners to coordinate efforts so resources are in place,” Lebo said.
The governor praised Lebo and others for taking steps to “re-imagine” how schools may function during this difficult time.
“It’s really important that we continue to engage students regardless of these extraordinary circumstances,” Reynolds said.
Legislative leaders also announced this afternoon that the 2020 legislative session would remain suspended through April 30. Lawmakers in mid-March had suspended the session until April 13. The 20-member Legislative Council will convene sometime next week by telephone or video to conduct pressing business.