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Iowa’s Republican Governor Reynolds threatens consequences for schools that refuse to reopen

Iowa’s Republican Governor Kim Reynolds just spoke out to threaten schools that refuse to reopen in her state, pledging that they will face consequences.

At least two school districts in Iowa have said that they will not follow Governor Reynolds’ mandate to open for in-person instruction at least 50% of the time, according to the Des Moines Register. On Tuesday, she fired back by saying that schools that do not abide by her mandate will not have that excess online instruction counted toward the state-mandated number of instructional hours and days.

“Schools that choose not to return to school for at least 50% in-person instruction are not defying me, they are defying the law,” Reynolds said at a press conference. “If schools move to primarily remote learning without approval, according again to the law, those days do not count toward instructional time.”

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Though Reynolds stopped short of saying that schools could lose state funding over this issue, it’s clear that the situation could cause students not to make the proper academic progress. It also could lead to licensure discipline for administrators.

This comes after the Urbandale and Waukee school districts announced that they would not be following Reynolds’ mandate. Other districts, including Des Moines, announced plans to ask for wavers for the 50% requirement or for permission to push the school year back a little bit. The hope here is that things will improve enough by the spring that schools can reopen full-time, safely.

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“While we don’t know what’s going to happen between now and the beginning of June, there is some degree of possibility that come spring we’re at a very different point as it relates to COVID-19 and school could look a lot more like normal. Then we could easily get to the 50% number,” said Superintendent Tom Ahart.

There have been a total of 887 COVID-19 deaths in Iowa since this pandemic began, with the peak of the outbreak coming in late April through mid-May.

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