Preschool students in Des Moines Public Schools will start returning for in-person classes on October 12 and other grade levels will return in the following weeks.
The district’s school board voted 6-1 last night for a set of guidelines about when classes should shift back to online only. Polk County Public Health director Helen Eddy cautioned the board.
“While you can look at all kinds of other metrics that are out there, the one that’s going to matter in the eyes of the Department of Education — whether they grant a waiver or whether they don’t — is one metric,” she said.
That metric is a two-week average showing at least 15 percent of people in the county who’ve taken tests are found to have Covid. Jalyn Cody was the only board member to argue the board should delay students’ return until Covid case levels are lower in Polk County.
“We’re going to throw a math in there,” Cody said. “…My math brain says…this is not going to go well.”
Board member Kelli Soyer said it was time for the district to try to get kids back in classrooms.
“We’re doing this in a tiered approach, so we’re not like saying: ‘Hey, throw everybody in,'” she said.
Until Des Moines Public School classes are in-person at least half of the time, school days won’t count toward the state’s required instructional time. When buildings reopen, 38 percent of families in the Des Moines district have chosen to keep their kids home for online instruction only.