Coronavirus, COVID-19 graphic

State waives requirement that next school year start no earlier than August 23

67% of 389 additional positive cases announced on Sunday attributed to surveillance testing at meat processing facilities 

As promised, during her daily news conference on Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds provided two weeks of advance notice to school districts about her next step.

That step was to close schools for the remainder of the school year.

That order is not yet in place. Friday's announcement was to give the districts the advance notice the governor had promised. The order will be made prior to or on April 30, the date through which schools were previously closed.

Reynolds said she would have liked to have been able to announce that schools would reopen on May 1.

“But as we look at what the data is telling us now, I can’t tell you with certainty, based on the department of public health, that early May will be the right time for students and teacher and staff to be together again in their classrooms,” she continued.

Schools will be required to continue learning opportunities for their students.

Director Ann Lebo said the Iowa Department of Education knows the challenges the closing of schools creates.

“But we also know this decision is necessary to ensure the health and safety of those we serve,” she said.

The closure of schools for the remainder of the school year includes the cancellation of the spring sports seasons.

Lebo said decisions about the summer sports season would be made by June 1.

Following are other details associated with the closure of schools for the remainder of the year.

• Waiving instructional time requirements for the remainder of the 2019-2020 regularly scheduled academic year for schools that continue to provide continuous learning through one of two approved options, voluntary educational enrichment opportunities, required educational services, or a combination of the two.

• Requiring schools to submit a Return to Learn Plan to the Iowa Department of Education by July 1 outlining ways they will address disruptions to learning as a result of COVID-19. This could include summer school, enrichment activities or other opportunities to address the needs of learners.

• Waiving the requirement that schools start no earlier than August 23, allowing school districts and nonpublic schools to make local decisions about the length of their 2020-2021 academic year.

Reynolds also on Friday gave an update on processing plants, especially those the meat processing plants Columbus Junction and Waterloo. She said the state is working closely with those plants to test all employees and do contact tracing.

She said 2,700 tests were being sent on Friday to the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo and that all tests would be completed over the weekend.

She added that the plant is taking temperature screenings of employees and employees must wear a mask upon entering the facility.

Regular communication is taking place with employees in multiple languages.

Reynolds said the Iowa Department of Public Health activated additional support teams to help the processing plans and others with contact tracing, as well as prevention.

“Yesterday (April 16) we also talked about the importance of expanding testing capacity in Iowa so that we can better understand the level of the virus activity,” she added.

increasing the number of I was tested either through diagnostic testing to confirm if a person has had the virus we can then target specific communities and businesses that are in a position to open back up in a way that is measured and responsible really is a critical piece of us talking about how we start to reopen the state of Iowa back up is what hard-working I am Is absolutely what I want to as we continue to learn how to live with COVID-19 wassail learn how to carefully balance not only the hell yesterday afternoon I element I will finance Authority workforce development education department of transportation and lottery to really discuss parameters and guidelines for how we will stabilize recovery recover and grow as we move into the next phase of planning we will be assembling a group and industry stakeholders to help provide input on challenges but also opportunities ahead Lucians to fuel the economy

Reynolds also reported on the conference call she had Thursday with President Trump, Vice President Pence and governors from across the country about the guidelines for responsibly opening up the economy.

“I look forward to continuing to partner at the federal level as well as the local level here in Iowa to make the best decisions to move our state forward,” she said.

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