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

'Unacceptable': Gov. Reynolds says DMPS faces 'biggest consequences' without compliant plan

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, 75,975 Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,234 have died.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday called on Des Moines Public Schools to submit a compliant Return to Learn plan or face substantial consequences.

In a meeting Tuesday night, the school board said they plan to continue 100% virtual education while monitoring COVID-19 conditions and would transition to a hybrid model when the district finds it safe to do so. 

But a Polk County court has struck down the district's motion for a temporary injunction, meaning they are still out-of-step with state law without a plan for at least 50% in-person instruction.

"... As the state's largest school district, [DMPS] faces some of the biggest challenges," Reynolds said. "But they also face some of the biggest consequences for further inaction."

"Every court in which our Return to Learn guidelines have been challenged has sided with the state," she continued. "Yet the Des Moines school board continues to slow-walk compliance weeks into the school year at the expense of its 32,000 students. And it's just unacceptable."

The governor stressed her belief that students on free and reduced lunch or with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) are in a better place attending classes in-person.

"I just want to go back to the fact that 326 out of 327 school districts have figured it out. A lot of these school districts have been in school for three weeks," Reynolds said. "They're adapting ... they're learning."

"Every other school district in Polk County has figured out a way to do that. So, it can be done."

Dr. Ann Lebo with the Iowa Department of Education said compliance issues will be addressed by contacting the district, explaining the citations and then a plan for remediation can be submitted.

That process has not started yet for DMPS, however.

"But at this point, there is a compliance issue that we'll have to take action on," Lebo said.

WATCH: Gov. Kim Reynolds' full press conference for Sept. 16, 2020

RELATED: DMPS students will receive credit for online classes, but district could fail to meet required teaching hours

State Hygienic Lab Director Dr. Michael Pentella spoke about Iowa's testing efforts six months into the fight against the coronavirus.

He announced that TestIowa will expand PCR testing capacity by adding two liquid-handling instruments, resulting in a jump from 3,000 to 5,000 tests per day. Another instrument, called the Thermo Fisher Amplitude, is expected to be added in October which would could perform 6,000 tests per day.

"So we're looking at the future with influenza and COVID-19 infections anticipated to occur this fall and winter to meet those combined testing needs," Pentella said. "Of course we're not alone in this effort. We've been working very collaboratively statewide. We've worked with the clinical labs throughout the state and the Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab to increase capacity throughout the laboratory system to help Iowans."

RELATED: What are the different types of coronavirus tests?

Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn and Polk counties can reopen bars, taverns and night clubs starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday according to the governor's latest public health proclamation.

Restaurants in those counties will no longer have restrictions on alcohol sales, but Story and Johnson County bars must remain closed until at least Sept. 20.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, 75,975 Iowans have tested positive for the virus and 1,234 have died.

RELATED: DMPS plans to continue virtual learning

RELATED: Some parents advocate for alternative to all virtual learning at DMPS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact and staying home if you are sick as main areas of focus for prevention and containment of COVID-19. Health experts also recommend getting your flu shot this fall. 

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