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Iowa governor gives families options for learning, schools flexibility in hiring

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will have a news conference at 9:30 Friday morning at Van Meter School.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will have a news conference at 9:30 Friday morning at Van Meter School.(Charlie Neibergall | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 8:10 AM CDT
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VAN METER, Iowa (WOWT) - Following a news conference Friday morning at Van Meter School near Des Moines, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation giving Iowa schools — and parents — room to maneuver as the state works to return students to the classroom in coming weeks.

The governor’s proclamation puts an emphasis on in-person education while allowing for remote-learning contingencies for opt-ins with parental consent, during any school building or district closure due to health concerns, or because of inclement weather. The order also allows for individual students or classrooms to move to a remote-learning plan without affecting the rest of the school.

Reynolds decision will also require students to spend at least half of their education time in classrooms, despite concerns the move could endanger children and teachers as the number of coronavirus cases increase in the state.

Iowa’s “Return to Learn” plan will allow for parents and guardians to choose the best remote-learning option for their family from among multiple options provided by the school or district.

Friday’s proclamation also “provides regulatory relief to address our education workforce, including removing limitations on how often and long substitute teachers can teach and expanding the pool of Iowans who are eligible to serve as substitute teachers,” the release states.

Temporarily adjusted rules placed on substitute teachers, removing limitations on how many days substitute teachers could serve in a single job assignment — driver’s education teachers are the only exception.

Reynolds’ proclamation also temporarily changed the age and degree requirements for substitute teachers. Previously, the job required a bachelor’s degree, but now those with an associate’s degree or who have “completed 60 semester hours of college coursework from a regionally accredited institution” will be allowed to sub. The minimum age was also adjusted — from 21 to 20 — and the state is also temporarily allowed to employ those with fewer years of classroom experience in substitute teaching positions.

Paraeducators will also be able to serve as substitute teachers for the special education classroom they are assigned, according to the proclamation.

The governor had said during her news conference on Tuesday that the state’s “Return to Learn” plans were taking shape and that she was planning to give another update later this week.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati and Ann Lebo, the state’s director of education, joined the governor at Friday morning’s news conference.

Council Bluffs details remote-learning option

Also on Friday, Council Bluffs Community School District announced they will be providing an accredited all-virtual option for the K-12 students this fall. The option is free, and is available to all district and non-district students

“(The option) offers greater flexibility for families to determine an educational setting that best meets the needs of their children,” according to a post on the district’s Facebook page.

The virtual school will be taught by licensed teachers utilizing Google Classroom, Google Meet and Edgenuity. These educators will follow the Council Bluffs Community School District curriculum and academic calendar, and adhere to state academic standards, according to the post. Students following this option of learning will foll the same schedule as their assigned classroom or daily schedule outlined by a school counselor.

Copyright 2020 WOWT. All rights reserved.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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