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DMPS will stay virtual until Winter Break following waiver approval

District positivity levels and student absenteeism are simply factors, not requirements, for a transition to online learning, education officials said.

DES MOINES, Iowa — With fall schooling continuing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, districts are updating their "Return to Learn" plans based on recent data and an uptick in cases.

Iowa Department of Education Director Dr. Ann Lebo said on Nov. 10 that 10% student absenteeism and the 15% county-wide positivity to request online learning are guidelines for school districts, not set rules.

"These guidelines are to assist districts when they are determining when they might want to use remote instruction, but they are only guidelines," Lebo said. "The county positivity rate is just one factor that school districts and non-public schools should take into account and it may not be indicative of the positivity rate among their students and staff."

"Each request to review to use remote instruction is reviewed on a case-by-case basis with our public health colleagues, and we have approved waiver requests that did not meet those specific thresholds."

Below is a running list of central Iowa school districts and their latest "Return to Learn" plans. It will be continuously updated.

For a complete Iowa Department of Education list on districts that have submitted updated "Return to Learn" plans, click here.


The Ames Community School District's request to go online was approved on Dec. 1. The district will stay online through Dec. 14. 


The Ankeny Community School District has been approved for online learning from Nov. 23-Dec. 7. As of Dec. 11, they have not made another request. 

Des Moines

Des Moines Public Schools has been approved by the state for another online learning, effective Monday, Dec. 14 through Wednesday, Dec. 23.

The district's winter break begins the 23rd and ends Thursday, Dec. 31. There will be no classes on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021.

Additional DMPS info:

CENTRAL CAMPUS: There will be no in-person classes during this period at Central Campus.

MEALS: DMPS will provide free meals to all students during this period. Pick up is available at the following sites weekdays between 11:00 AM and 1: 00 PM. (Extra meals will be sent home on November 24 for the holiday break. Meal sites are closed November 25-27 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Hoover High School, 4800 Aurora Ave.
  • Lincoln High School, 2600 SW 9th St.
  • North High School, 501 Holcomb Ave.
  • Roosevelt High School, 4419 Center St.
  • Brody Middle School, 2501 Park Ave.
  • Callanan Middle School, 3010 Center St.
  • Goodrell Middle School, 3300 E. 29th St.
  • Harding Middle School, 203 East Euclid Ave.
  • Hiatt Middle School, 1430 East University Ave.
  • Hoyt Middle School, 2700 East 42nd St.
  • McCombs Middle School, 201 County Line Road
  • Merrill Middle School, 5301 Grand Ave.
  • Weeks Middle School, 901 East Park Ave.
  • Capitol View Elementary, 320 East 16th
  • Carver Elementary, 705 East University Ave.
  • Cattell Elementary, 3101 East 12th St
  • Edmunds Elementary, 950 15th St.
  • Hanawalt Elementary, 225 56th St
  • Hillis Elementary, 2401 56th St
  • Jackson Elementary, 3825 Indianola Ave
  • Jefferson Elementary, 2425 Watrous Ave
  • King Elementary, 1849 Forest Ave.
  • Lovejoy Elementary, 801 E. Kenyon Ave.
  • Madison Elementary, 806 E. Hoffman St.
  • McKinley Elementary, 1610 SE 6th St.
  • Monroe Elementary, 3015 Francis Ave.
  • Morris Elementary, 1401 Geil Ave.
  • Moulton Elementary, 1541 8th St.
  • Perkins Elementary, 4301 College Ave.
  • Phillips Elementary, 1701 Lay St.
  • Pleasant Hill Elementary, 4801 E. Oakwood Dr.
  • River Woods Elementary, 2929 SE 22nd St.
  • South Union Elementary, 4201 South Union St.
  • Stowe Elementary, 1411 East 33rd St
  • Willard Elementary, 2941 Dean Ave.
  • Windsor Elementary, 5912 University Ave.
  • Wright Elementary, 5001 SW 14th St.

Extra food will be provided for the weekend. Any child age 1-18 is eligible. No ID required. Children do not need to be present.

METRO KIDS: Des Moines Public Schools is offering Metro Kids Care during 100% virtual learning in order to best serve families who continue to need childcare. Metro Kids serves a small percentage of DMPS students and will continue to follow all CDC guidelines to ensure student safety. Programs will be offered 7:00 AM-5:00 PM daily at the following elementary schools:

  • Brubaker
  • Cattell
  • Greenwood
  • Hanawalt
  • Hillis
  • Jackson
  • Morris
  • Perkins
  • Walnut Street
  • Willard

All sites will have limited capacity to ensure social distancing. Families may register through their current SchoolCare Works parent portal, new families may register for full-day care on the Metro Kids registration page.

OFFICES: School district offices remain open and may be visited by appointment only. Masks and physical distancing will continue to be required of every visitor.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: DMPS has been working with the families of IEP students to outline services to be provided if the district went to virtual learning. In some cases, these services will be provided on site for individual students during this time.

SPORTS & ACTIVITIES: Sports and in-person activities are on hold during this time. The Central Iowa Metropolitan League – which includes DMPS and represents one out of five students in Iowa – has asked the state high athletic associations to delay the start of the winter sports season until early January, given the growing number of schools doing virtual learning; to date, that request has been ignored. Activities that have been taking place virtually may continue to do so.

TECHNOLOGY: Students should already have their district-issued laptop at home with them. If you have technology issues, please start by contacting your school. Click here to access our guides for student laptops and internet hot spots.

VIRTUAL LEARNING: Education for students who are currently in virtual learning will continue as it has been. Education for students who had signed up for hybrid learning will continue with daily synchronous lessons with their teachers; schools will provide students the schedule for online classes.

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The Johnston Community School District requested another waiver on Dec. 9 and was approved. The district will continue online learning starting on Dec. 14 through Dec. 27.


In-person learning for PK-6th and hybrid learning for 7th-12th grades will be in effect Tuesday, Dec. 1. Fully virtual learners will continue their online classes and schoolwork as usual on Dec. 1.  

Statement from the district:

Thank you to all students, parents and guardians for your understanding during the temporary change to District-wide required remote continuous learning. Let's continue to be Bobcat Strong and finish the calendar year on a high note!

REMINDER: The last day of District-wide required remote continuous learning is tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 24. There will be no school Nov. 25-27 (Thanksgiving Break) &  Nov. 30 (staff professional development).


The below information was posted to the Saydel Community School District Facebook page

  • Saydel High School will remain in Remote/Virtual Learning Tuesday, Dec. 1 through Thursday, Dec. 17
  • Woodside Middle School will remain in Remote/Virtual Learning Tuesday, Dec. 1 through Thursday, Dec. 17
  • Cornell Elementary School will be shifting the RTL Model to Remote/Virtual Learning starting Thursday, Dec. 3

Southeast Polk

The Southeast Polk Community School District has been approved to conduct classes 100% online from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.


The Urbandale Community School District was approved to hold classes completely online from Nov. 17 to Dec. 3. They have not requested another waiver as of Dec. 11. 


The Waukee Community School District has been approved for 100% virtual learning from Nov. 16-30.

West Des Moines

The West Des Moines Community School District was approved to go 100% online on Dec. 3. The district will use online instruction from Dec. 7 through Dec. 21. 

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