Des Moines School District defies Governor’s proclamation; to go exclusively online in September


The Des Moines Public School District plans to defy Governor Kim Reynolds’ “return to learn” initiative to start the school year in person and hold classes exclusively online.

In a letter from superintendant Dr. Thomas Ahart to families, he describes the “thousands of hours” the district spent developing a plan influenced by the input from 80% of the district. That plan included the option of exclusive on-line learning or a hybrid of on-line and in-person learning.

By the time Governor Reynolds issued her four phase requirement that only allows an online learning option when the county the school is located has a coronavirus positivity rate of at least 15 percent, and only then for an initial period of 14 days, 75% of the school families had already signed up for one of their available options. Ahart says the state response has “created concern and confusion for parents and teachers alike.” He says it’s not as easy as “flipping a switch” and “ignores the reality of how schools operate.”

Therefore, the Des Moines Public School System will start the school year exclusively online and transition to the hybrid learning model for elementary schoolchildren. Ahart anticipates that high school students will most likely have classes online for the entire fall semester with some exceptions.

In conclusion, the superintendent says he will work with the state Department of Education and the Governor’s Office about their need to make this decision.