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

Iowa schools can start fall classes earlier than August 23 if a plan is submitted

A Return to Learn Plan must be submitted to the Iowa Department of Education
Credit: WOI

Iowa students may be returning to class earlier than the normal August start date, but only if the school district develops an adequate return plan.

A proclamation signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday outlined expectations for public and private school districts. Currently, Iowa schools cannot start school before August 23. However, under the governor's proclamation, a school district can begin its school year before August 23, 2020, "but only if the school district adopts a calendar as a part of its Return to Learn Plan submitted to the Iowa Department of Education that ensures that any instructional time scheduled before August 23, 2020, is in excess of the minimum instructional time of one hundred eighty days or one thousand eighty hours."

The governor had previously ordered schools to close through April 30. All of Iowa’s 327 public school districts, as well as 179 nonpublic schools, currently offer continuous learning through one of the approved continuous learning options outlined above. Continuous learning encompasses a variety of approaches used to extend learning beyond brick and mortar buildings — online learning, e-learning, distance learning, including paper packets, and virtual learning. 

It's not clear what will need to be included in a Return to Learn Plan that districts can submit if they want to get back to building instruction before August 23. According to the latest information from the Department of Education, A Return to Learn Plan was already required to be submitted by July 1. The state asked districts to outline ways they will address disruptions to learning as a result of COVID-19. This could include summer school, enrichment activities or other opportunities to address the needs of learners.

In addition to the school start date announcement, Gov. Reynolds temporarily suspended the regulatory rules surrounding scholarships and interscholastic athletics. When school resumes and athletic competitions resume, all student-athletes will be deemed to be academically eligible, according to the governor's Wednesday order.

Reynolds also waived the transfer rule for interscholastic athletics, to the extent that these subrules require a certain number of school days of ineligibility. Any day that a school is closed pursuant to a proclamation of the governor shall be counted toward the days.

Read the entire proclamation here:

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