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LIST: Central Iowa back-to-school plans by district

Local 5 is tracking what central Iowa schools are planning for their return to the classroom this fall, from mask recommendations to virtual learning options.

IOWA, USA — The Iowa State Fair concludes in just a few days, meaning kids in the state are getting ready to head back to the classroom. 

This year, like last year, has its own concerns surrounding COVID-19 and options to start the school year remotely. A law signed in May bans public schools from mandating face masks for students and staff. 

However, some districts are strongly recommending face masks for everyone. 

Local 5 is tracking what central Iowa school districts are planning for their return to the classroom this fall.

Did we miss your district? Let us know by emailing news@weareiowa or by texting us at 515-457-1026. 

Ames Community School District 

First day of school:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 25: 1st-5th grades, plus orientation for all 6th/9th grade and new middle and high school students to the district
  • Thursday, Aug. 26: 7th, 8th, 10th-12th grades
  • Friday, Aug. 27: Kindergarten and Early Kindergarten

School board meetings: Second (5:30 p.m.) and fourth (6:30 p.m.) Mondays of each month

COVID-19 updates: Posted online. The district also said they will have a COVID-19 dashboard for cases.

Remote learning options: The district's website says students in grades 6-12 will have the option for online learning through an online, state-approved learning program, Edgenuity. Remote learning for students in K-5 will be allowed for students who have or live in a household with a severe health condition. 

The deadline to submit interest was Aug. 13. 

Ankeny Community School District

First day of school: Monday, Aug. 23 

School board meetings: First and third Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m.

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: All kids K-5 will have an option to learn remotely through Edgenuity. The registration link will be re-opened through Aug. 18. Parents of kids in grades 6-12 should contact their building principal for options.

More information about the district's Return to Learn plan can be found here

Bondurant-Farrar Community School District

First day of school: Monday, Aug. 23

School board meetings: Second and fourth Mondays of each month at 5 p.m.

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: The district will not be offering remote learning options for the 2021-22 school year. 

Families seeking 100% online learning due to health and safety concerns will be allowed to open enroll in such programs, according to the district's website. 

Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District

First day of school: Monday, Aug. 23

School board meetings: Listed here

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: The district does not list any remote options on its website. Local 5 has reached out to the district to find out more. 

Des Moines Public Schools

First day of school: Wednesday, Aug. 25 

School board meetings: First and third Tuesdays of each month at 5:30 p.m.

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: DMPS already offers online learning options for 6th-12th grade students, but this year K-5 students will also have the option to learn virtually through Edgenuity. The district said there are more than 550 elementary students signed up to start school online, with more on a waitlist. DMPS plans to increase capacity to serve students virtually and get those on the waitlist enrolled within the first 7-10 days of the school year. 

There was a waitlist for virtual learning for high school students as of Aug. 17.

RELATED: DMPS holds town hall to answer parent questions about COVID heading into fall

Fort Dodge Community School District

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 24

School board meetings: Second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6 p.m.

COVID-19 updates: The district does not have any recent COVID-19 updates on its website. 

Remote learning options: The district does not list any remote options on its website. Local 5 has reached out to find out more. 

RELATED: Fort Dodge public schools turning to virtual teachers for help

Johnston Community School District 

First day of school: Monday, Aug. 23

School board meetings: Second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6 p.m.

COVID-19 updates: Posted online, case numbers here

Remote learning options: The district will not be offering online learning options for students this year. 

Marshalltown Community School District 

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 24

School board meetings: First and third Mondays of each month at 5 p.m.

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: The district does not have any options listed on its 2021-22 school registration web page

School supply lists: Posted here

RELATED: Rally at Iowa State Capitol calls for allowing mask mandates in schools

RELATED: Fact-checking Dr. Stock’s COVID-19 claims at Indiana school board meeting

Saydel Community School District

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 24

School board meetings: Second Monday of each month at 6 p.m.

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: The district is accepting Remote Learning Requests from families for children to enroll in remote learning. This is only for students with personal health needs or who live in the same household as someone with personal health needs. 

Request forms must be submitted by Aug. 20 at 11:59 p.m.

Southeast Polk Community School District

First day of school: Monday, Aug. 23 

School board meetings: First and third Thursdays of each month at 5:30 p.m. 

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: According to the draft of the district's Return to Learn plan, online learning will be offered for students with medical conditions through Edgenuity. The district says it will work with families on an individual basis to make a plan that works best for each student. Families who want to know more should contact their building principal.  

The school board is set to meet on Aug. 19 to approve the plans. 

Urbandale Community School District  

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 24

School board meetings: Second (work sessions) and fourth (regular meetings) Mondays at 6:30 p.m.

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: Urbandale will be offering online learning through Edgenuity this year for families who have unvaccinated individuals in their households and are concerned about in-person learning.

Waukee Community School District

First day of school: Tuesday, Aug. 24 

School board meetings: Second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6 p.m. 

COVID-19 updates: Posted online

Remote learning options: The district will be offering a remote learning option for students PreK-6 this fall. This is only for families with one or more members who are considered to have a "significant health condition." 

WATCH: Inside Waukee's new Northwest High School

West Des Moines Community Schools

First day of school: Wednesday, Aug. 25 

School board meetings: Second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. 

COVID-19 updates: Posted online 

Remote learning options: The district approved its Return to Learn plan, which allows gives Pre-K families the option to select online learning. WDMCS teachers will work with a classroom of Pre-K students, which is similar to the 2020-21 school year. 

"K-6 families had the opportunity to select a third-party, state-approved online learning system, Edgenuity, for their students," the district's website says. "Students will work independently, and Iowa-certified Edgenuity teachers will oversee their work."

RELATED: Largest teachers' union in US backs COVID vaccine requirement or testing

Districts with their own approved virtual option

Out of Iowa's 327 school districts, 23 have set up their own online schools.

  • Benton Online School 
  • Iowa Connections Academy
  • Cedar Falls Virtual Academy
  • Virtual Academy (Cedar Rapids)
  • Council Bluffs Virtual Academy
  • DC Online (Davis County)
  • Virtual Campus (Des Moines)
  • Iowa City Community School District Online
  • Digital Dragons (Johnston)
  • Marshalltown Virtual Academy
  • Mason City Virtual Academy
  • Mid-Prairie Virtual Academy
  • Montezuma Virtual Learning Academy
  • Oelwein Online
  • Oskaloosa Virtual Academy
  • Bulldog Virtual Learning (Ottumwa)
  • IGNITE (Shenandoah)
  • Sidney Virtual SAC School
  • Sioux City Online School
  • Tri-Center Virtual Academy
  • Waterloo Virtual School
  • Williamsburg Online School

WATCH: Metro parent switches child to home school as COVID-19 cases rise 

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