Des Moines, Ames Set to Start School Online Tuesday

DES MOINES, Iowa - Eight Iowa counties have COVID-19 14-day positivity rates above 15 percent as more schools will start classes this week.

The 15 percent positivity rate is the threshold set by the state to allow schools to conduct online only classes. Schools are otherwise required to hold 50 percent of classes in-person.

Both the Ames and Des Moines school districts delayed starting classes until Tuesday in order to make adjustments during the pandemic.

The positivity rate in Story County is 20.7 percent, and the Ames district has been granted a waiver to start classes entirely online.

Polk County has not crossed the 15 percent threshold, and is currently 9.7 percent. The Des Moines district asked the state for a waiver to start classes online, but the request was denied.

Last week, the district filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state's requirement for in-person classes, and to seek a court judgement favoring local control of classroom decisions. A Polk County judge has said a decision on the lawsuit will be announced Tuesday.

The Des Moines district is following state guidelines that forbid in-person sports and extra-curricular activities in districts that hold online only classes.

WHO-TV reports students from Des Moines plan to march to Terrace Hill (Governor's Mansion) on Monday to protest the state’s decision. Students and supporters will meet at Roosevelt High School at 9:30 a.m. Monday and will march to Terrace Hill. Organizers are requiring marchers to wears masks and social distance.

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