Breaking News
More () »

Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

DMPS approved for additional online learning waiver, effective Nov. 30-Dec. 11

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 has submitted an application to the state to continue online learning from Nov. 30-Dec. 11.


The Ankeny Community School District has been approved for online learning from Nov. 23-Dec. 7.

Des Moines

Des Moines Public Schools has been approved by the state to resume online learning from Monday, Nov. 30 through Friday, Dec. 11 for all grades.

The previous waiver is in effect until Nov. 30, but the district had to submit a new one for an additional two-week period.

"The district’s hybrid learning model, including limited in-person classes, is tentatively scheduled to resume on Monday, December 14," DMPS said on its website.

Additional DMPS info:

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. A full list of sites can be found here.)

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

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.

RELATED: COVID-19 in Iowa: 24-hour statewide positivity rate nearly 50%, 27 additional deaths reported


The Johnston Community District has been approved to hold 100% virtual instruction from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

The school board will discuss next steps at their Dec. 7 meeting.


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 has been approved to hold classes completely online from Nov. 17 to Dec. 3. 


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

West Des Moines

West Des Moines Community schools has been approved to hold classes 100% remote from Nov. 16-Dec. 3.

RELATED: Researchers developing nasal spray to combat COVID-19 | Connect the Dots

RELATED: Do masks with antiviral coating offer more protection?