Created: September 05, 2020 12:58 PM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge said Friday that he would decide next week whether to allow the Des Moines school district to temporarily move completely to online classes rather than comply with a state order intended to ensure children return to at least partial in-person classes.
Polk County Judge Jeffrey Farrell said he hoped to reach a decision on the temporary injunction by Tuesday, when school is supposed to resume for the 33,000 students in the Des Moines district. Most other school districts in Iowa already have resumed classes.
The district has filed a lawsuit, claiming Iowa law gives local school board control over how children are educated and that it’s not safe to hold in-person classes at a time when hundreds of confirmed coronavirus cases are reported every day in Iowa.
In the last 24 hours as of Friday morning, there were 1,183 news confirmed cases and three new deaths.
The state contends that Gov. Kim Reynolds has the authority to order that schools must provide at least 50% in-person learning. Reynolds has said districts can seek waivers to move to remote learning if local coronavirus testing positivity rate reaches 15% over a two-week period.
That threshold is much higher than the level recommended by most public health experts.
A similar case is also proceeding in Johnson County, where the Iowa City school district and Iowa State Education Association, a teachers’ union, are seeking to block the governor’s mandate. The judge in that case also said she’d tried to rule by next week.
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