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On this Memorial Day Weekend, we remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe both at home and abroad. These braves heroes put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms and liberties that we all hold so dear. Today, I send my thoughts and prayers to the families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.

I also want to recognize and thank my father, Richard Lohse, and my father-in-law, Herman Brockschmidt, for their service in the U.S. Army.  My father’s service was cut short due to a death in his family. My father-in-law served as a radio repairman in Korea during the war.

While this year may be a little different than normal, Memorial Day weekend is a time that we typically spend with family and friends, and I am doing that very thing. However, I hope you take some time to think about and reflect on the reason for Memorial Day.

We have officially been called back to action. The 2020 legislative session will reconvene starting June 3rd.

While I know that the decision to reopen businesses has been controversial, I am excited to get back alongside my colleagues and serve Iowa. Spending quarantine growing closer with my family has been a welcome break, but I think I speak for all my fellow legislators when I say that we’re eager to get back to work.

I plan on updating you all with a biweekly newsletter until the session ends. Today I will leave you with a quick rundown of all the steps being taken during this reopening process, as well as a few other bits of news.

School Start Date

Pursuant to Iowa Code §§ 29C.6(6) and 135.144(3), in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, and at the request of Iowa Association of School Boards on behalf of numerous local governmental bodies, temporarily suspends the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code § 279.10(1), to the extent that it prohibits a school district or accredited nonpublic school from beginning its school calendar before August 23, 2020, but only if the school district adopts a calendar as a part of its Return to Learn Plan submitted to the Iowa Department of Education that ensures that any instructional time scheduled before August 23, 2020, is in excess of the minimum instructional time of one hundred eighty days or one thousand eighty hours. This suspension applies only to the 2020-2021 school calendar as a result of the school closures ordered during this public health disaster emergency.

Interscholastic Athletics Requirements

Pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(6), temporarily suspend the regulatory provisions of Iowa Administrative Code rule 281-36.15(2), the scholarship rule for interscholastic athletics.  When school resumes and athletic competitions resume, all student-athletes will be deemed to be academically eligible.

Pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(6),  temporarily suspend the regulatory provisions of Iowa Administrative Code rule 281-36.15(3) and (4), the transfer rule for interscholastic athletics, to the extent that these subrules require a certain number of school days of ineligibility.  Any day that a school is closed pursuant to a proclamation of the Governor shall be counted toward the days required by Iowa Administrative Code rule 281-36.15(3) and (4).

Update on Licensing Requirements

The following Professional Licensing Boards will give additional guidance for initial professional licenses:

  • Real Estate Commission;
  • Architectural Examining Board

The required annual licensing reports laid out in Iowa Code §§ 536.11(2) (regulated loans), 536A.14(1) (industrial loans), and 537.2304(2) (consumer credit code),

Background checks for initial licenses governed under Iowa Code §§ 533A.2(7) (debt management), 533D.3(7) (delayed deposit services), 535B.4(2)(b) (mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, and closing agents), 535D.4 (Mortgage Licensing Act), 536.30 (regulated loans), 536A.32 (industrial loans), and 543E.20(5) (real estate appraisal management companies) are suspended, but the appropriate regulatory agency shall conduct them following the conclusion of the disaster emergency.

The following alcohol licenses renewal for “A”, class “B”, class “C”, and special class “C” liquor licenses and class “B” beer permits and class “C” wine permits that are set to expire one year from the date of issuance are temporarily suspended.

Updated COVID Dashboard

Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health released an expanded dashboard to provide even more data to Iowans during this public health emergency. Visit the website at: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/.

The dashboard will now provide more up-to-date information with information since midnight the previous day, rather than previously being only at 10am the previous day. The new information includes even more county-level information and historical information. This information is based on the county of residence of the individuals tested.

The dashboard now breaks down into four tabs: Case Counts, Test Iowa Assessments, RMCC Dashboard, and Long-Term Care Outbreaks. All previous information is still available through these four tabs.

The dashboard shows Iowans Governor Reynolds’ data driven approach to determining what mitigation strategies and resources are needed throughout the state. As of today, one out of every 46 Iowans has been tested for COVID-19.

Applications for K-12 CARES Funds

As part of the ESSER funds, all participating accredited nonpublic schools will be allocated an equitable share, allowing them to receive services related to COVID-19 disaster relief in that amount. Applications for ESSER funds will be completed in the CASA system. These applications will be found in the COVID-19 folder, not the Consolidated Application. The application will open on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, and will be due by close of business on Monday, May 11. Districts must designate which of the allowable spending categories they intend to spend ESSER funds in, then sign several assurances about the use of CARES Act funds. (For a list of the potential uses of these funds, please see the CARES Act Summary.) Applications will be approved immediately as long as they are submitted with all fields filled out and assurances completed. Districts can expect to receive their allocation on May 13.

More information can be found at: https://educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/2020-05-05CARESActGuidanceESSERF.pdf

Governor Practicing “Modified Quarantine”

At Monday’s press conference, Governor Reynolds announced that she would be following a “modified quarantine” after a member of Vice President Pence’s staff tested for COVID-19. Last week, the Governor traveled to Washington DC to meet with President Trump and participated in some events with Vice President Pence in Iowa.

The Governor’s precautionary measures include practicing strong social distancing, wearing a mask when she is required to be around staff or others, regular temperature checks, and a daily COVID-19 test. Her actions are similar to the measures that Dr. Fauci is currently taking.

She is continuing to hold regular press conferences, though for now they will be dial-in only for media. She held one today to provide the latest COVID-19 news and indicated that she plans to announce additional business reopenings on Tuesday.

Contact: Colin Tadlock

Return to Learn Plans and Guidance for K-12 Schools

Return-to-Learn plans are required to be submitted to the Iowa Department of Education (Department) by July 1, 2020. These plans are designed to help districts and nonpublic schools meet the challenges of 2020- 21 by:

  • Ensuring that remote learning options are available for all students;
  • Planning to help students catch-up for the learning they may have missed during school closures;
  • Integrating public health strategies into Iowa’s schools;
  • Enabling schools to move between on-site and remote learning as needed; and
  • Helping the Department and our partners at Iowa’s area education agencies (AEAs) understand how best to support schools.

All districts and nonpublic schools must submit a Return-to-Learn Plan through the Department’s Consolidated Accountability and Support Application (CASA).

A school district or accredited nonpublic school may begin its school calendar before August 23, 2020, but only if the school district adopts a calendar as a part of its Return-to-Learn Plan submitted to the Department. The plan submitted must ensure that any instructional time scheduled before August 23, 2020 is in excess of the minimum instructional time of 180 days or 1,080 hours. There are a few ways districts can add time onto the 2020-21 calendar:

  • Districts may choose to move days or hours of instructional time from those remaining in the 2019-20 school calendar to their 2020-21 calendar. This is subject to local contract negotiations.
  • Districts may choose to fund additional days of instruction prior to August 23, 2020. These additional days can be added via Continuous Learning or a Hybrid model to reduce costs if either model fits local needs.

More info can be found here: https://educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/2020-05-08COVID-19Return-to-LearnGuidance.pdf

The Department of Ed. has also provided a Return to Learn Support document to assist schools moving forward. This plan can be found here: https://educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/2020-05-08Return-to-LearnSupportDoc.pdf

That’s all for now. As always, please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. Be sure to keep an eye out for my next newsletter in two weeks. Stay safe!

Brian Lohse

Author: Brian Lohse