CORONAVIRUS

Iowa schools can open summer school, activity camps starting June 1

Schools should allow face masks, limit group sizes per new Iowa Department of Education guidance

Director#xa0;of the#xa0;Iowa Department of Education Dr. Ann Lebo speaks at the State Emergency Operations Center in Joh
Director of the Iowa Department of Education Dr. Ann Lebo speaks at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. (Olivia Sun/The Des Moines Register, pool photo)

School districts can offer voluntary, in-person summer school starting June 1, Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo said Thursday, as well as in-person enrichment camps.

The announcement allows public and private schools to open for academic enrichment programs and activity-based camps for STEM, drama, robotics and other subjects, and comes a day after Gov. Kim Reynolds said high school summer sports teams could start practices as early as June 1.

“Closing Iowa schools through the end of the normal school year was one of the toughest decisions I’ve made these last 11 weeks,” Reynolds said during her Thursday morning news conference. “For me, nothing signifies getting life back to normal more than getting our kids reconnected to their schools.”

Public school districts and private schools will make their own decisions about whether to provide in-person summer programming. Lebo said state officials and school leaders have a call scheduled at 1 p.m. to discuss summer sports and learning.

If schools do choose to have in-person summer programming, Iowa Department of Education guidance recommends schools distance students from each other by limiting class sizes and avoiding interactions between different groups of students.

State guidance also recommends schools, “if feasible, allow” use of cloth face coverings and screen all staff and students upon arrival.

“It’s important to note this guidance is intended as a starting point for school districts and non-public schools as we take our first steps to open for students,” Lebo said.

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Department guidance is “specific to moments in time,” Lebo added, and she expects guidelines will be adjusted by July 1 based on coronavirus activity.

Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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