Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Friday that schools in her state must make sure students spend at least half of their learning time in classrooms, a decision that will override some districts' plans to rely primarily on remote learning in the fall.
According to the proclamation, schools may only shift to primarily remote learning under specific circumstances, including when parents decide it's the best option for their family, when Iowa's education and health departments shut down entire schools due to public health concerns, or when severe weather forces a school to close.
The governor's order comes as some school districts offer a hybrid reopening model, with students going to school a few days a week for traditional in-person learning and learning from home the rest of the week. Des Moines Public Schools, the largest school system in Iowa, is planning to allow elementary and middle school students to come to school two days per week, or once per week for high school students. Every student in the district will also have the option to exclusively take online classes.
Reynold's emphasis on in-person learning echoes recent remarks from the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who continues to push schools to return to the pre-pandemic normalcy.
"A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all," she said.
As of Friday, Iowa's health department reported some 37,000 positive COVID-19 cases, with more than 400,000 Iowans tested. That means every one of eight Iowans have been tested and one of 84 tested positive.