Governor Reynolds updates Iowa’s ‘Return to Learn’ plan

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 10:34 PM CDT
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SIOUX CENTER, I.A. (Dakota News Now) -Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds gave an update on the state’s ‘Return to Learn’ plan Thursday.

“I think collectively, all of us would like to think that we need to get our kids back in the classroom. Because the school provides so much more than just academics. They provide social and emotional learning,” said Gov. Reynolds.

Reynolds believes students need to be back in the classroom. However, she also discussed possible options if positive COVID cases were to surge.

If a county’s positive COVID test rate climbs between 15 and 20 percent and there’s a decrease in student attendance by 10 percent, districts have the option to switch to hybrid learning or move to remote learning for up to two weeks.

Remote learning can also be requested if a county’s positive test rate exceeds 20 percent. Any decision would need to be approved by the state.

These new guidelines aren’t sitting favorably with everyone.

“Possibly if a community believes that they need to go to full closure and all online learning, that that district should be able to do that after we’ve hit the five percent threshold,” said Mike Beranek, President of the Iowa State Education Association.

The Iowa State Education Association argues that decisions should be made locally.

“There still is this state control over what a community feels is best for their students and their employees and that’s wrong,” said Beranek.

School starts August 13th in Sioux Center.

“I was really happy to see some of those guidelines come out today because that’s something that many of us have been asking for, you know as far as a little more clear guidance on some of the targets,” said Superintendent Gary McEldowney.

Like many school districts, Superintendent McEldowney is working on a ‘Return to Learn’ plan, which will go out to parents next week. Right now, the plan is to bring students back to class while offering a remote learning opportunity to those who don’t feel comfortable. Masks will also be required for all Sioux Center staff and students in fifth grade through high school.

Minnesota state officials also unveiled a plan on Thursday to reopen schools this fall that gives districts some flexibility to toggle between in-person and online learning. But they reserved the right for the state to step in if the coronavirus gets out of control in a particular district.

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