The Des Moines School Board’s lawsuit challenging the governor’s authority to force districts to have students in classrooms during the pandemic will proceed, but the judge has not granted a temporary injunction. It means the state’s denial of the district’s request to teach classes online will stand.
In a written statement, Governor Kim Reynolds said the ruling shows she is correctly interpreting Iowa law. Des Moines Public Schools has started the year with virtual classes for nearly all students. The judge’s initial decision means students may have to make up this “virtual” class time later in the year.
Des Moines Public School officials say the governor has improperly taken local control away from school boards. The guidelines Governor Reynolds spelled out in late July let school districts shift to online classes under specific conditions. First, Covid cases in the district must rise to a level showing at least 15 percent of those tested for the virus in a 14 day period found out they had Covid. Second, classroom absences in a district must rise above 10 percent.
State officials did grant Ames and Iowa City schools permission to start the school year remotely as covid case counts in the districts were far higher than in the Des Moines area.