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Iowans are wondering when it will be safe and responsible to resume normal activities and rebuild the economy after so many temporary closures. Last week Governor Kim Reynolds announced a new website to give Iowans better access to testing, and give public health officials a better idea of how Iowa is progressing through the pandemic. It helps the governor make decisions on what is safe to reopen and what needs to remain closed for a longer period of time. I would encourage everyone to take the assessment at TestIowa.com and determine whether you should get tested. This free assessment just takes a few minutes to complete. I have been assured that the data collected is owned and only accessible by the state of Iowa and will be purged as soon as this crisis is over and the data is no longer needed. The website is the best way to collect the information on where additional testing is necessary in our state and help make the best decisions to re-open our state in a safe, responsible manner.

Recently, Governor Kim Reynolds also announced schools would be extending their closures for the remainder of the school year. She also announced the Iowa Department of Education would waive instructional time requirements for the remainder of the school year, direct schools to provide continuous learning, and require schools to submit a “Return to Learn” plan. This plan will guide schools as they address the disruptions to learning this year in preparation for the fall academic school year and help local school districts determine how they can best meet the needs of students in their districts. I continue to be amazed at the agility and creative problem-solving of our teachers and administrators in their response to this crisis and their constant focus on student learning and growth. To learn more, visit www.educateiowa.gov.

The Iowa Legislature continues to plan its work to resume the 2020 legislative session. A number of policy and budgetary matters still need to be addressed this year and I am looking forward to getting back to work! While we are still working through how the federal CARES Act will affect Iowa, one of the first items we will address when we convene is to ensure recovery payments and forgivable loans related to COVID-19 are not taxed. We will also be looking at what we have learned from this pandemic and how we can effectively rebuild the economy and continue to make Iowa a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

Please continue to use https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/ to find the most updated information. We have been working to make sure you are aware of the many resources available to you, ranging from questions on unemployment or business support, to information on COVID-19 and the statistics in our area. We are still all in this together, and while it may be difficult, we need to keep being responsible and staying home if we feel sick, washing our hands often and staying six feet apart from others. If we keep doing this, we can start getting back to our normal routines again and do some of the things we have been missing. If you have questions about anything as we continue to work our way through this pandemic, please reach out with a message or a phone call.

Author: Chris Cournoyer