Des Moines Schools Returning To Hybrid Learning After Winter Break
Des Moines Public Schools will bring all grades back in-person under the district’s hybrid plan on Monday. The decision comes after the Iowa Department of Education denied the district’s request to keep most grades online for an additional week.
On Wednesday, Polk County’s 14-day COVID infection rate was 11.7 percent, which is below the state’s guideline of 15 percent to approve remote learning.
On a vote of 4-3, the Des Moines School Board chose to send all classes back at the same time rather than stagger their start dates for hybrid learning . Board member Kimberly Martorano said middle and high school students in particular need more time in-person after spending almost the whole year online so far.
“We need to provide opportunity for our students to achieve at their highest level and in my mind that’s giving them the opportunity for a hybrid learning environment, at the very least,” Martorano said.
Classes at DMPS resume next Monday, January 4. Students at all grade levels will return to either the in-person hybrid model or the all-virtual model, depending upon the choice made for the first semester. Please visit our web site for more information.https://t.co/U9Cfg2OMtN— DM Public Schools (@DMschools) December 30, 2020
Board member Kalyn Cody voted against switching to hybrid because the coronavirus is still spreading quickly. The district’s own independently chosen metrics recommend waiting until positive case numbers fall further before transitioning away from virtual learning.
Unless pandemic conditions improve, Cody said, the district should wait for vaccinations.
“What matters is when we can get our people and our families, and ourselves hopefully, vaccinated so we can end this and get back to whatever amounts to normal business when that’s possible,” Cody said.
Superintendent Thomas Ahart said the district has not heard when any vaccines would be available for teachers and others staff members.
At one point before winter break more than 50 school districts were operating under remote learning waivers. By Monday there will be no active waivers through the Iowa Department of Education.
The department has said the guidelines for granting new waivers may be different going forward but no specific changes have been announced.