The Davenport Community School District plans to request a state waiver to allow it to offer online-only classes when school begins in August.
On Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that districts would be required to adopt either a fully in-person model or a mixed model with at least 50% of instruction in the classroom. The governor’s plan does allow families to opt out of in-person teaching in favor of online classes.
Reynolds said Friday that districts could seek waivers to the 50% requirement from the state Education Department, which would consider making exceptions if there are local surges in virus cases
Robert Kobylski, superintendent of Davenport schools, said Thursday that he intended to ask for that waiver.
“It’s based upon Dr. (Louis) Katz’s ongoing concern at the current state of the virus in Scott County and the city of Davenport in particular,” Kobylski said.
Katz, the Scott County Health Department’s medical director and an infectious disease specialist, said this week that he was “very pessimistic” about any return to face-to-face learning and that the number of COVID-19 cases in Scott County would likely increase without “aggressive interventions.”
The process of requesting the waivers had not yet been released by the state, Kobylski said.
“We hope that he gets this waiver; it makes a lot of sense — the 50% threshold that the governor has set is too dangerous during the pandemic right now,” Toby Paone, UniServ director of the Iowa State Education Association, said. “Teachers want to go back to work and be with students but we want health and safety first — theirs and ours.”
Before the governor’s mandate, Iowa school districts were developing different options for their students’ return to school based on the need to deal with COVID-19: online-only learning, a mix of online and in-person learning and a completely in-person model.
The Davenport district had initially designed its three options as a sliding scale that it could move along based on the pandemic data at the time, Kobylski said earlier this week. The plan included an additional hybrid option. Initially it would have started online then moved to 25% in the classroom, then 50% and finally 100% in-person learning.
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