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Governor Reynolds is working on the process for gradually lifting the restrictions on Iowans brought on by the Coronavirus crisis. I am writing this as of April 24. If you are reading this in a newspaper, about a week will have gone by since I wrote it, and more will be known about the process for opening up more and more businesses.  The Governor has announced today that next week elective surgeries can be resumed. Farmers markets will be reopened on a limited basis. She is also working on revising her budget recommendations.

As you know, the governor 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 the activities safe to reopen and areas of activities needing to remain closed for longer. I would encourage everyone to take the assessment at TestIowa.com and determine whether you should get tested. Iowa has purchased hundreds of thousands of coronavirus tests and those tests will be available soon. This website is the best way to collect the information on where additional testing is necessary in our state and help make the best decisions for our state. Our area continues to have only a few cases of the virus. As of today, the official report shows Warren County has 19 cases and Madison County has 3.

As you know, Governor Kim Reynolds has 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.

The Iowa Department of Education released updated guidance on continuous learning as schools and families work to adapt to these changes. It answers a number of questions parents may have concerning their child’s education and how they are going to keep learning and keep up with school work while staying at home. Many school districts have been working with families to ensure they can participate in continuous learning online or with paper packets. You can find updates and information on continuous learning at educateiowa.gov. I am hopeful that parents will become more involved with their children’s education under these circumstances.

The Iowa Legislature continues to plan its work to complete the 2020 legislative session. A number of policy and budgetary matters still need to be addressed this year. When we reconvene we will continue to be mindful of guidelines for the large group gatherings from the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health, making sure to do our part to manage the spread of the virus.

Many resources are available for those who need them. We have been working to make sure you are aware of all of those at your disposal, ranging from questions on unemployment or business support, to information on COVID-19 and the statistics in your area. We are still all in this together, and while it may be difficult, we need to continue 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 working back towards normal routines again and do some of the things we have been missing.

As always please feel free to contact me with your ideas or concerns.

Julian Garrett

Author: Julian Garrett