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'Definitely nowhere near six feet' | DMPS teacher says social distancing is not possible in her classroom

In total, 64.6% of Des Moines Public Schools' students will return to 100% in-person learning, while 34% will stay virtual.

DES MOINES, Iowa — As of Monday, Iowa school districts are required to allow parents the option to have their students learn in-person 100% of the time. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the law just a few weeks ago. 

But now some teachers are worried about how safe their students' return will be. 

Sarah Kelly is a Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) science and math teacher. She told Local 5 social distancing won't be a possibility in her classroom, even though she has the largest classroom at Brody Middle School.

“When I measured everything— I’m just over two and a half feet, front to back if you're thinking rows," Kelly said. "And I’m about four feet between the columns of students. Definitely nowhere near six feet.”

Kids were supposed to return back to the classroom on Monday, but the freezing temperatures forced DMPS to stay virtual.

Credit: Sarah Kelly
A look at Sarah Kelly's classroom in Brody Middle School. Kelly told Local 5 she doesn't think social distancing can be achieved when students finally return.

Kelly will have 26 students in her classroom when they return.

In total, 64.6% of DMPS students will return to 100% in-person learning, while 34% will stay virtual.

Amanda Lewis, the public relations officer for DMPS, said they have over 60 nurses that do contact tracing for the district.

However, the school said, "Basic steps to prevent COVID-19 will no longer be feasible, notably social distancing."

Masks are required at all times inside the school, except when students are eating lunch. There are, also, thousands of hand sanitizations stations that have been added, and communal water fountains are closed.

“My building and a couple other buildings are that the students aren’t leaving the classroom," said Kelly. "They don’t move through the building. The teachers will come to them.”

Kelly will, also, teach 35 students virtually.

“It’s still a little nerve-wracking when you spent 11 months away from people and suddenly, you’re in a room with a bunch of people," said Kelly. "So, it’s a lot of mind shift to get over too.”