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Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart sent out an email to staff on Thursday. Ahart said while he is extremely excited to engage students and employees again, he knows many are worried about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just as life was starting to return to normal this summer, the spike in COVID-19 cases in Iowa and around the world is cause for genuine concern,” he wrote. “As you may know, Iowa school districts are now greatly restricted in how we can protect the public’s health.”

Ahart said districts cannot require masks or select their own modes of learning.

“The state has imposed limits on some of the basic things we can do for the health and well-being of our students, staff and community,” he wrote.

The Des Moines district, though, will continue to encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated he said. And, while it cannot require masks, he said the district “can and will” encourage everyone to wear one when in our schools.

“It is also important that we model good behavior for our students,” he wrote. “Wearing is caring, so please mask up for yourself and especially for your colleagues and our students.”

The district already offered a virtual campus in the summer to include middle and high school grades. Now it will also make online courses available to K-5.

Author: Jacob Hall