Iowa requires public schools to offer full-time, in-person instruction

On Feb. 15, Iowa public schools were required to start offering full-time, in-person instruction for all grades. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed the bill enacting the mandate on Jan. 29. The bill, which passed the state House and Senate with the support of all Republicans and one Democrat, allows parents to request a hybrid or all remote option for their children. Schools can request a waiver from the requirement to provide in-person instruction from the state Department of Education based on factors such as the number of teachers quarantining because of the virus.

Previously, Iowa public schools had to provide at least half-time, in-person instruction. Gov. Reynolds issued the part-time order on July 17, 2020. 

Iowa is one of five states that require schools to open at least partially for in-person instruction. 

  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) required all public and private pre-K, elementary, and middle schools to resume full-time, in-person or hybrid (at least two in-person days every week) instruction, regardless of their county’s transmission rates, on Jan. 19.
  • The Florida Department of Education ordered public schools to reopen at least five days per week for all students no later than Aug. 31, 2020.
  • Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key ordered public schools to offer in-person instruction five days per week, starting no later than Aug. 26, 2020.
  • The Texas Education Agency required public schools to offer daily in-person instruction options, or risk losing state funding, no later than Oct. 19. The agency’s order allowed schools to stay remote for the first eight weeks of the school calendar year, which began on Aug. 24, 2020.

In Chicago, the third-largest school district in the country, the first wave of students (pre-K and special education students) returned to in-person classroom instruction on Feb. 11. The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools reached a reopening agreement on Feb. 9. Under the plan, K-5 students will return for hybrid instruction (two days per week in-person) on March 1. Students in grades 6-8 will return on the hybrid schedule starting March 8.