Governor Kim Reynolds has signed into law a requirement that Iowa’s K-through-12 schools hold all classes in-person by February 15.
Reynolds called it’s an important step in the state’s recovery from the pandemic. “We now have the benefit of months of evidence that shows schools are the safest place for our kids to be,” Reynolds said late this morning. “Transmission among our students is low and spread isn’t occurring due to contact in schools.”
Fifteen public school districts and a private school are currently offering classes virtually or a hybrid model, with students in classrooms every other day.
“Iowa was one of the few states that reopened its schools in the fall and the vast majority of our districts welcomed their students back for a full-time, in-person learning in August. I commend those school districts from their leadership and board members to their teachers and staff for doing what was necessary to bring kids back to the classroom and allow the families that they serve to choose what’s best for their children,” Reynolds said. “Unfortunately that option hasn’t been available for every family.”
Earlier this month, Reynolds called on legislators to pass a bill requiring full-time in-person instruction in Iowa schools. Republican lawmakers approved the bill yesterday and the governor signed it today, with a public ceremony in the statehouse rotunda.
“I’m pleased to take another step forward in our Covid recovery by ensuring that every child and family in Iowa has the opportunity to attend school 100% in-person, if that’s their choice,” Reynolds said.
Schools may continue to offer online classes to students, but it is not required. Holding classes in-person on each school day is. Democrats who voted against the bill say forcing face-to-face instruction for all students will be difficult for large schools without space for social distancing. They also suggested resumption of full in-person classes should wait until teachers and staff are vaccinated.
During her remarks at the bill signing ceremony, Reynolds said the state has face shields, hand sanitizer and other pandemic essentials on hand, ready to ship to school administrators who ask for supplies.
“National research and outcomes in some of our schools shows that keeping our kids out of the classroom has a profoundly negative effect on student achievement, resulting in learning loss in math and reading and it’s impacting students of color and those who attend high poverty schools the most,” Reynolds said.
“It’s time to put local control into the hands of parents, where it belongs, so that they can choose what’s best for their children.”