Iowa Dept of Education Backpedaling From Its School Reopening Guidelines

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Education is backtracking from its guidelines to reopen classrooms for the next school year.

The guidelines released Thursday did nor require face masks or social distancing for students or teachers, and did not require health checks.

The department released a statement after a backlash from parents, saying its guidance needs further clarification.

It said it'll have more information in the near future as well as health and safety measures for teachers to use to assist students and families.

The Department's original "Reopening Guidance for Schools" from Thursday differs from CDC recommendations that state, "face coverings should be worn by staff and students (particularly older students) as feasible, and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult."

It Iowa guidance does follow CDC recommendations to teach the washing of hands for 20 seconds with water and soap, and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees in high risk situations.

It also follows CDC guidelines to not require the screening of students and staff before entering a building.

The guidance has been criticized as insufficient in its call for teaching to prevent bias for or against face masks.

Schools have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Kim Reynolds allowed voluntary summer activities and some sports to resume this month. All school activities may resume July 1.

Read the Department of Education's latest statement below:

The Iowa Department of Education, in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health, has developed reopening guidance that takes into account 327 school districts and 119 accredited nonpublic schools, all with different circumstances; and the individual needs of more than 550,000 schoolchildren as well as teachers and other school staff in our state.
The Department of Education acknowledges that the reopening guidance released Thursday, June 25, needs further clarification, and will release additional information in the near future as well as health and safety measures for teachers to use to assist students and families. An example of the health and safety work we have already delivered for schools to use in their Return-to-Learn work is available here. This is a sample of materials available to schools that helps teach students about mitigation strategies such as handwashing and distancing from others.
We recognize that face masks can be an important tool to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. The Department of Education and the Iowa Department of Public Health do not recommend that districts and nonpublic schools require masks for all students and staff because of the considerable implications for such a policy. However, schools may decide to require masks based on their individual situations and data.
The Iowa Department of Education will continue to rely on the expertise of the Iowa Department of Public Health to support schools and communities during this reopening process to ensure all students and families can return to school safely.

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