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Larger School Districts Across Iowa Face Challenges With 100 Percent In-Person Learning Mandate

Virus Outbreak Iowa School Cleaning
Charlie Neibergall/AP
Custodian Doug Blackmer cleans a chair in a classroom at the Jesse Franklin Taylor Education Center, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

As of February 15, 2021, every public school in Iowa is required to offer 100 percent in-person learning for students who choose that option. The vast majority of districts were already offering that option, but in January Governor Reynolds signed legislation to make that uniform across the state forcing a number of districts, primarily in Iowa’s largest cities, to make the change.

Most of those districts dropped their hybrid option and now offer either 100 percent virtual, or 100 percent in-person learning. Des Moines Public Schools is the largest district in the state. More than 20,000 students, about 65 percent of the district, are now in school five days per week. Thomas Ahart, Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools, speaks with host Charity Nebbe on this edition of Talk of Iowa about in-person learning in his school district.

Later in the conversation, Iowa Public Radio’s education reporter Grant Gerlock describes the challenges many school districts face with in-person learning, and health reporter Natalie Krebs talks about the changes to state reporting of COVID-19 cases and the alarming confusion it stirred last week.


· Thomas Ahart, superintendent, Des Moines Public Schools
· Grant Gerlock, education reporter, Iowa Public Radio
· Natalie Krebs, health reporter, Iowa Public Radio

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Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa