DES MOINES, Iowa — Schools across Iowa are welcoming back thousands of students for a return to in-person learning five days a week.
On Jan. 29, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill requiring districts across the state to offer this option.
For Des Moines Public Schools students, their return was pushed back until Wednesday following due to "virtual snow days" for cold weather on Monday and Teusday.
Katherine Gamble, a mother of two DMPS students, chose to send her kids back 100% in-person after the district dropped the hybrid option. She said both of her children are excited to go back full time.
She also said she’s not too concerned with her kids going back daily and catching COVID-19 and bringing it back to someone in her household, because she has been vaccinated and her husband has antibodies.
However, Gamble is concerned for teachers and some of the school staff who have not been vaccinated and might be worried about catching the virus.
"My biggest concern is for the teachers and the staff that you know are going to have all these kids come back and may feel like they don't have the same choice that we as parents have between sending our kids back and staying at home online," Gamble said
20,3494 students in the district are back in the classroom, while 11,132 are 100% virtual.
DMPS Director of Communications Phil Roder said with so many students going back, it might be hard to do one of the main things the CDC has been recommending since last year.
"We're going to see typically 20 students in an elementary classroom,” Roeder said. "Probably 25 or more in some high school classrooms, and at that point there just simply not the square footage to allow for social distancing."
Since social distancing will be hard to accomplish, the school board plans to continue cleaning high-contact areas, make sure the thousands of hand sanitizer stations are maintained and continue to increase air circulation.
Gamble said once her children are back in school, she plans on reminding them every day to stay safe.
“You [have] to wear a mask, you’ve got to try the best you can to socially distance and you’ve got to keep washing your hands," she said. "Because this isn’t life as normal. This is we get to do our best to there.”
DMPS requires masks to be worn at all times except for meal or snack time.
Roeder said if parents decide as weeks continue they want to switch their child or children from one learning option to the next, there is a possibility for the switch. It just depends on if the student’s school has space for the switch.
WATCH: Gov Kim Reynolds signs in-person learning bill into law (Jan. 29, 2021)
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