Aug 18, 2021 - News

Des Moines back-to-school questions, answered

A screenshot of Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart leading a virtual town hall meeting.

DMPS Superintendent Thomas Ahart led Tuesday night's virtual town hall meeting. Screenshot courtesy of DMPS' live video

Des Moines Public Schools' superintendent and staff were questioned Tuesday night about COVID-19 and the new school year, which starts Aug. 25.

A few highlights from the virtual town hall:

Virtual learning: It's an option for all grade levels except for pre-K classes.

  • For K-5, all students can go virtual, if they want to. They can opt in or out after school begins.
  • Middle school virtual classes have space available.
  • High school: There's a waitlist.

COVID: Exposure letters will be sent to parents and guardians of students who shared classrooms with someone who has tested positive.

  • There's no threshold of absences to determine when a class or school might close. (That would involve a decision with state health and education officials.)
  • Multiple fully vaccinated staffers recently tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently on leave, Superintendent Thomas Ahart said.

Precautions: Masks and vaccines cannot be mandated for students or staff because of state law.

  • An antimicrobial coating is being applied to hard surfaces to help prevent illness.
  • Ventilation systems are being extended beyond school times, most running 20 hours a day.
  • A mask-wearing incentive program is currently being vetted by the school's legal team.

The meeting was recorded and can be watched, here.


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