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Iowa governor: ‘It is critical that we prioritize bringing children back to the classroom’

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said that getting children back in school is one of the most important milestones in her coronavirus recovery plan.

“While the school year will be different than it’s ever been before, it is critical that we prioritize bringing Iowa’s children back to the classroom,” Reynolds said on Tuesday. “But, of course, we must do it in a safe and responsible manner.” 

Reynolds says her administration will be working with schools to make sure they have enough personal protective equipment as well as enough staff to reopen in the fall. She said she will hold a press conference in the near future to release her plan for Iowa children to return to school.

The governor agreed that there is absolutely a need to keep teachers and staff safe from the virus while at work. She said that reopening schools should be just as important as keeping Iowa’s health care facilities and other essential services open.

“I believe that school districts and teachers know without hesitation that our kids need to be in the classroom,” she said. “We are doing them a disservice by not opening these schools back up and getting them to school. But we have to be flexible. We have to think outside of the box. We have to look at different alternatives.”

The Iowa State Education Association responded saying reopening schools needs to come with statewide requirements for face coverings, social distancing, and smaller class sizes. They say Iowa teachers want to see their students back in school but safely.

“We simply cannot place our students in harm’s way,” the organization said. “And, we will not place ourselves in that position either.” 

Iowa schools were required to submit a “return to learn” plan to the Iowa Department of Education this month with commitments to provide both in-person and virtual learning opportunities.

Des Moines Public Schools, the state’s largest district, plans to offer students the option of enrolling in a 100% virtual learning program or a hybrid program that includes in-person and virtual classes.

Iowa joins many other states in seeing an upward trend in coronavirus cases this month. The Iowa Department of Public Health reports an average of nearly 556 new cases per day over the last seven days. Reynolds has been very hesitant to put any restrictions back in place and instead is asking Iowans to do their part to slow the spread.

“Let’s all do our part to limit the spread of #COVID19, to Step Up and Be Responsible. We are all in this together,” Reynolds tweeted.

Iowa’s schools have been closed since mid-March when the coronavirus first spread across the state. Reynolds did issue some additional coronavirus restrictions at that time but never went as far as some of her Democrat colleagues in other states.

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