Iowa Legislature passes bill requiring schools to provide in-person option

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A bill requiring schools in the state to provide a 100% in-person learning option has passed both chambers of the Iowa Legislature.

The bill was passed along party lines on Thursday night.

Democrats, especially in the state's largest school districts, are protesting.

"Large school districts have unique challenges in keeping students and their staff safe from this deadly infection. This one size fits all bill is the governor's, and now Senate Republicans, smack down on school districts and elected board members that defied her and you, all to settle a political score," said Democratic State Senator Joe Bolkom of Iowa City.

"We are getting less than 20,000 vaccines a week in this state. If we go back we'll quarantine right and left. It's just too soon. It's not safe," said Democratic State Senator Trone Garriott of Des Moines.

Some call for local control, allowing districts to decide what's best for their communities.

"This is the wrong time for the heavy handed state government to provide unfunded mandates to our local school districts," said Democratic State Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames.

Once signed, schools will be required to reopen on the Monday two weeks after the Governor signs the bill.

Iowa parents will still be allowed to choose at-home remote learning for their children.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called for the legislature to pass this bill in her Condition of the State speech earlier this month.

It now heads to her desk for her signature. Once Reynolds signs the bill, the new law requires schools to reopen on the second Monday two weeks after the signing.

That means if the Governor signs the bill today, kids can be back in the classroom full time starting Monday February 15.

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