Students Head to School for All In-Person Learning After Governor Signs New Law

Jesse Hausknecht-Brown, Executive Editor

At the end of January, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law requiring Iowa schools to give the option of a five-day school week. This new rule was implemented at City High on Tuesday, February 16 and students who choose to go all in person went to school for the full day. They will continue to go everyday instead of online going for half of the week.

“Overall I am pleased with our first couple days of in-person classes with the two hybrid groups put together,” John Bacon, the City High principal, said. “We have had positive days at school and it has been nice to see all kids together.”

Jason Schumann, a City High social studies teacher, feels like school still isn’t normal, but it’s nice to have more energy in the building.

“Some of that energy seems to come from students getting to see old friends again in person,” Schumann said. “But teachers are still pretty limited about what instructional methods we can use consistent with safety protocols.”

Julia Wiener ‘21 also saw friends reunite with each other, which she enjoyed.

“It’s definitely super strange to see the school with so many people after being in hybrid for so long,” Wiener said. “It can be nerve wracking to see so many people, but I’ve seen quite a few people reunited with friends, and I think that’s nice.”

Bacon explained that the school will closely monitor the COVID-19 situation in order to keep students and staff safe.

There is no question that coming to school every day is great from an educational standpoint,” Bacon said. “Having said that, we will definitely be keeping an extremely close eye on the Covid situation.”

Social distancing in the classroom is more difficult with more students in school, but Bacon believes that students are doing well with wearing masks correctly.

“I am very proud of students for wearing masks with great fidelity. The students have been doing a really good job with that in my opinion,” Bacon said.

Wiener described that deciding what schooling method to do has been difficult for her and her peers.

“For me, and a lot of others, we had hoped to transition online. However, actually doing so has proved to be harder than we thought because of all the scheduling issues,” Wiener said. “I know friends who had hoped to go online, but have classes that are only offered in person. Another big factor I’ve heard people talk about is mental health. I think many find it too taxing to be online.”

Schumann believes that it’s too early to tell if this new rule is safe in terms of COVID-19 because more data is needed to determine if spread of the virus is increasing in school buildings.

“I do think the state legislature and the governor should have allowed the District to make this transition at the end of the trimester. The District’s matrix developed last fall called for schools to offer the 100% option once community transmission rates dropped below 5%. This policy is consistent with recent guidance published by the CDC.  Johnson County is currently at 6-7% and slowly declining,” Schumann said. “So the end of the trimester would have been a better time to make this change.”

Wiener doesn’t fully agree with the requirement that all schools need an all in-person option.

“I do think it is harder to socially distance with more people, but I myself don’t feel unsafe,” Wiener said. “I just hope that everyone around me decides to take the proper precautions.”