Des Moines Schools Continue To Say ‘No’ To Governor Reynolds
The dispute between the state's largest school district and Governor Kim Reynolds continues. The Des Moines school board last week again voted to violate the governor's order that at least half of learning this school year must take place in the classroom. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Governor Reynolds has called the actions "unacceptable" and has begun the process of punishing the district.
The Des Moines school district says that it is deeply troubled to be in violation of state standards, but believe the governor has put them in a no win situation by requiring students to spend at least half their time in a classroom. The Gazette points out the the governor's order does allow for online waivers but only when school districts have more than 15% of people test positive for COVID-19. That is triple the positivity rate that the CDC say would be appropriate for resuming in person classes.
The Gazette reports that the school district is concerned about the health of their students and staff. The district reports that 31% of their staff of underlying health concerns that put them at a higher risk of the virus. 10% of the staff are over the age of 60. Officials are worried that if in person learning resumes, many staff would quit rather than come back and risk getting sick.
Although Des Moines' lawsuit has yet to be resolved, the Gazette reports that a judge ruled that the state has power over school districts, even if it's rationale is based on flawed virus information. Governor Reynolds is the only Midwest governor to issue a mandate on in person learning. The positivity rate in the Des Moines school district was near 12% in September, but has fallen to around 7%.