Nancy Mwirotsi

The Des Moines School Board meets tonight to decide whether to keep classes primarily online or bring students back in-person as required by the state.

A group of parents, students and community groups is calling on the school board to switch to a hybrid plan, with a virtual option, which would also meet state requirements for in-person learning. Nina Richtman says her two sons in middle school have special needs that are not being met under the virtual plan.

“It really is a strain on families like mine,” she says. “…We’re just trying to get by every day and we’re really missing the community supports, the formal supports.”

Nancy Mwirotsi is the single mother of a high school senior and she works closely with refugee families. She says virtual learning does their children no favors.

“Because most of them you know English is probably a second language,” she says. “Most of these families do not have any computer at home, but we are asking them to do online classes.”

Mwirotsi says refugee families are more worried about exposure to the virus through work than through school.

(Photo and story by Iowa Public Radio’s Grant Gerlock)