Thomas Ahart

Iowa schools have until tomorrow to report to the state how they plan to teach students as classrooms remain closed during the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials with Des Moines Public Schools — the state’s largest district — are making “distance learning” mandatory for the rest of the school year. There are nearly 33,000 students in the district and Des Moines Superintendent Thomas Ahart estimates about 7000 of them do not have internet service at home. The school will work to establish connections and provide computers or tablets to students who don’t have access to the devices.

“Anyone who thinks that we can have students away from school as they are accustomed to and away from their teachers and that learning loss isn’t going to happen are absolutely kidding themselves,” Ahart says.

Online classes for Des Moines seniors will start Monday, April 13th and on Monday the 20th for the rest of high school students. On April 27th, Des Moines students in preschool through 8th-grade classes will begin online classes.

The governor ordered schools to close through at least April 30th and has indicated she’ll announce by April 16th whether the closure will be extended into May. Districts may present one of three options to state officials tomorrow: making online courses voluntary or mandatory or by making up lost classroom days in summer school or extending the current school year into June.