Governor: Kids going to school

Reynolds says only she can authorize 100 percent online learning; New Hampton superintendent says district will continue to prepare for three ‘COVID-19’ options

Iowa children will head back to their school buildings next month, and school districts will not be allowed to make the decision to primarily use online distance learning.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ announcement Friday set off a protests from both Democrats and the Iowa State Education Association, but the Republican governor said her latest proclamation clarifies a law unanimously approved by the Iowa Legislature last month.

That law, she said, prevents school from “primarily” providing instruction online unless the governor issues a proclamation saying they can, and the Department of Education has defined “primarily” as schools putting more than 50 percent of instruction online.

“Iowa’s approach to returning to school must be based on what’s in the best interest of students and families,” Reynolds said. “We’ve heard from hundreds of Iowa parents who want their children to return to a structured, safe and enriching academic environment.”

The governor’s announcement took New Hampton and Turkey Valley Superintendent Jay Jurrens by surprise, but he also said in an interview Friday afternoon that the two districts he lead will continue to prepare for three “Coronavirus options.”

— For more on this story, see the July 21 Tribune

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