Statehouse News

By: 
Andy McKean
Iowa State Representative, 58th Dist.

State COVID-19 Guidance for K-12 Schools Lacking

     On June 25, the Iowa Department of Education (DE) released COVID reopening guidance to K-12 schools for the upcoming school year. After significant push back from education leaders, teachers, and parents, the department quickly offered to take more input.

     At just two pages, many Iowans are concerned the guidelines are inadequate given the pandemic and more thorough recommendations should be given to keep students and teachers safe and healthy. Many concerns have also been raised about the DE not recommending schools require masks for students or teachers even if social distancing is not possible. 

     The Iowa State Education Association, which represents Iowa teachers, said the state’s guidance is inconsistent with CDC guidelines, common sense, and good public policy. They’ve recommended the DE develop guidance based on health expertise, educator voice, access to protection, and equity. The National Education Association has also released guidance on reopening schools.

     On July 1, schools will be submitting their online learning plans, called “Return to Learn.” Schools will have to be ready for instruction in August by either in a classroom or online which will require access to the internet and a computer for students.

COVID-19 Public Health Proclamation Extended to July 25

     The Governor has extended the Public Health Disaster Emergency through July 25, which impacts many businesses around Iowa. Some highlights from the latest proclamation are:

     • Restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, distilleries, country clubs, fraternal clubs, and wedding receptions can remain open at full capacity, but groups or tables of people must continue to be spaced 6 feet apart.  All customers must have a seat at a table or the bar. 

     • Gyms need to continue to keep equipment spaced 6 feet apart.  While attending classes, customers must be 6 feet apart.

     • Salons and barbershops must continue to keep customers 6 feet apart. 

     • Theater and live performance venues need to continue to keep groups of people 6 feet apart.

     All businesses need to make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices. The Iowa Department of Public Health has guidelines for businesses.  Guidelines can be found here, https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus/Business-and-Organizations.

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