Oct 14, 2020 3:11 PM

Gov. Reynolds Closes Public Schools Until April 30; Coronavirus Confirmed in Louisa County

Posted Oct 14, 2020 3:11 PM

By Beacon Staff

School in Iowa is out until May, but students have to continue learning at home or make up the lost instruction later.

Gov. Kim Reynolds mandated a public school closure until April 30 during a Thursday (April 2) press conference, saying at-home learning through school districts can continue in a variety of ways. That includes enrichment courses and paperwork packets delivered to students.

"Making a sudden shift to virtual learning isn't always easy, especially during the crisis that we face now, but we can't let perfect be the enemy of good," Reynolds said.

During a Thursday afternoon press conference, the governor outlined new steps that school districts must take to ensure they are reaching Iowa students during the shutdown.

The Burlington School District is working with Winegard Co. to turn school buses into wifi hotspots, and Chromebook laptops already have been distributed to students.

The school district responded to the governor’s mandate on its Facebook page Thursday afternoon.

“We will continue to provide continuous learning opportunities and meals for our students,” the district said in the post.

Reynolds already has waived four weeks of instruction time lost during the initial school closure, and districts have until April 10 to inform the Iowa Department of Education of continuous learning measures they are putting in place.

According to Reynolds, this can include voluntary enrichment programs or required classes that count toward credit. Programs can include online lessons as well as paper packets delivered to students, and districts can choose a mixture of voluntary and required programs for students at different grade levels.

"School districts that chose not to provide continuous learning (whether voluntary or required) will be required to make up the instructional time lost beyond what has been waived by the Legislature," Reynolds said.

Ann Lebo, director of the Iowa Department of Education, said the state has developed an expedited application process for any school that wants to implement a required continuous learning program.

The application will be available to districts in a few days and will allow the state to approve applications within 24 hours, she said.

Statewide, 614 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Eleven people have died from the illness, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The first case in Louisa County was confirmed Thursday morning (April 2), and Des Moines County still has only one confirmed case.

With Jefferson County also reporting a confirmed coronavirus case, Lee County is the only southeast Iowa county without a confirmed case.

Des Moines County still has only one confirmed case, according to state officials.

Two more deaths related to the novel coronavirus in Iowa were confirmed Thursday by state public health officials as well.

The new deaths were both in Linn County and were older patients, between the ages of 61 and 80.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.