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Iowa schools preparing for possibility of 100% in-person classes resuming

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 9:34 PM CST
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CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) - Iowa school districts are preparing for the possibility of returning to 100% in-person classes. In Tuesday’s Iowa’s Condition of the State Address, Governor Kim Reynolds asked legislators for a bill that gives parents the choice to send their kids back to school full-time.

The North Scott School District has already been providing fully in-person learning during most of the pandemic. Superintendent Joe Stutting says at the beginning of the year they saw more challenges, but now they’ve been able to get COVID-19 under control because they adjusted their environment, “created more social distancing, and of course, mask-wearing became more acceptable and has been pushed more.”

Stutting says at the beginning of the academic year, about 85% of their families chose to learn in-person. Now, it’s about 90%, “families who truly took safety as number one have already chosen online 100% of the time. What I would say to our governor, is schools need time to phase that in.”

Gary DeLacy, Clinton’s Superintendent also said the timing would be a big factor in switching models. He says, “I would hope we would be given time for our entire staff that needed the opportunity to be vaccinated.” DeLacy says with the current timeline, educators would be vaccinated under Phase 1B, which means their second shot wouldn’t be until early March. He goes on to say, “I would love to be able to have our staff protected health-wise before we basically eliminate social distancing in our delivery model.”

Some Iowa parents like Aleshia Bartels in the Clinton School District say they’re ready to be 100% in-person. Bartels says her boys being at home “does have an impact on their learning” because “parents are not trained like teachers are.” Bartels says her kids have learned the importance of cleanliness and wearing a mask, so she isn’t overly concerned with the possibility of getting COVID-19 from school.

Another parent in the Maquoketa School District says possibly returning to school 100% is “great” but would prefer if kids would get vaccinated before they get back into schools because kids can be “super spreaders.”

As of Wednesday night, a bill proposing all Iowa schools have 100% in-person learning as an option has not been filed.

Stutting says they’ve been able to limit exposures to COVID-19 to about 3% of their district’s students and staff. He says in order for cases in schools to stay low, the whole community has to pitch in.

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