DES MOINES, Iowa — It's been a tumultuous year for educators and families of school-aged children, and in her 2021 Condition of the State address Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds acknowledged that Iowans' response to educational curveballs was "nothing short of amazing."
Reynolds, a Republican, also called on the legislature to put forth a bill that would provide every Iowa family with the option of sending their child to school in-person, five days a week.
"We can't wait any longer," said Reynolds in her address. "Our kids can't wait any longer."
Emily Westergaard, executive director of the By Degrees Foundation, works with many under-resourced families in the Des Moines Public School District. She acknowledged that for many families whose parents work several jobs full-time, accommodating virtual learning isn't an option.
However, she says before an in-person mandate can happen, a lot of educational infrastructure needs to be put in place.
"If that's going to happen, we have to come together and find ways to create even more support for our students and our teachers," said Westergaard. "Just mandating that is not going to solve the problem, necessarily."
Westergaard suggested more funding and PPE be provided to schools.
"I would love to see that if the mandate does go through, it goes through with some additional funding to ensure that our schools have enough PPE [and] school supplies. Our kids can't share crayons in elementary school; that's a very simple example," Westergaard said.
After the address, we asked Local 5 viewers what some of their thoughts were on the governor's proposed requirement that all schools provide full-time in-person learning as an option.
Jenny Connolly writes:
"It’s so hard. Every single teacher for my kids has had covid now. They are getting it from school (that’s how we also got it). Now...I’m married to a teacher and teaching online to junior kids was the worst. They need to vaccinate education folks (aides, teachers, etc.). And then give families the option. Hybrid is so so hard for families. Just all a mess And this new variant that is happening is going to prove to make all of this even messier."
Allie Clark writes:
"As an educator who was very anxious about returning to school, I’m 1000% elated we have been in school full time since August. I have a preschooler in universal preschool with me at school and I am so so thankful he’s had a “normal” school year. It’s possible to do in person school safely. It’s time we make this happen."