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The Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa City Community School District filed a lawsuit against the State of Iowa on Wednesday over the state’s requirements about when a school district can move to 100% online classes.
Based on SF2310, a bill passed last session, Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education have issued guidance requiring school districts that want to move to less than 50 percent in-person instruction, to apply for a waiver, if they are in a county with a 15 percent positivity rate and they have 10 percent absenteeism.
ISEA, a teachers’ union that represents educators throughout the state, and the Iowa City schools allege in their lawsuit that Governor Kim Reynolds overstepped her authority by requiring school districts to primarily hold in-person classes.
They also allege that the decision-making powers of school districts and school boards supersede Reynolds’ proclamations, giving them the authority to choose how to return to school this fall.
The Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa City Community School District are requesting a temporary injunction to block enforcement of the governor's mandate. A Sept. 3 hearing has been scheduled in a lawsuit.
If granted, that would mean school districts across the state would have their own authority to decide whether to move to 100% remote learning and not face consequences from the state if they do.
Friday, Governor Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency for another 30 days.
The proclamation extends public health mitigation measures currently in place for businesses and other establishments. This includes the requirements for bars and restaurants to ensure six feet of physical distance between each group or individual dining or drinking; to ensure all patrons have a seat at a table or bar; and to limit congregating together closer than six feet. Requirements for social distancing, hygiene, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission also remain in place for gyms, casinos, salons, theaters, and other establishments.
The proclamation also authorizes school districts with buildings damaged by the derecho natural disaster to offer instruction by primarily remote learning with approval of the Department of Education. And those that are unable to conduct even primarily remote learning because of the derecho may apply for a waiver of instructional time from the Department.
The proclamation also extends many of the previously issued regulatory relief measures necessary to respond to this public health disaster, including those related to healthcare, professional licensure, educational workforce, and expirations of driver’s licenses.
The proclamation is now in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, September 20, 2020.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 56,441 Iowans have tested positive, up 3,240 from our update last Wednesday morning (Aug. 19), with a total of 59,6949 tested. 35 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 1037 deaths. Now 43,599 Iowans have recovered. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here.
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning.