Let schools make their own choices.

Kim Reynolds should allow districts to transition to virtual schooling if needed.


Beverly Gillard

In January 2022, Iowa saw around 5,528 new cases per day, at least 110,028 active cases total. Over 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time since Dec. 3, 2020, and over 703k total cases. Yet, students in Iowa have been stuck in their classrooms with no social distancing.
Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law requiring schools to offer 100 percent in-person learning on Feb. 15, 2021. When the in-person learning bill went into effect, this caused a lot of commotion in the Des Moines district. First, let’s go back to March 13, 2020, when everyone thought the world was ending due to the start of the community spread of COVID-19. Most people were excited about spring break, and because we didn’t need to go back to school for a few weeks. I think we all remember those times when we didn’t have toilet tissue, right? Yeah, not a great way to spend spring break, was it?

Weeks went by, and spring break was over, but we still weren’t in school. Everyone was confused and stressed out; emails were sent out saying that we were going to continue the school year virtually. I was stressed out because I was used to in-person schooling; though, I wasn’t the only one. Everyone was concerned; some kids didn’t know if they were going to be able to graduate. Stores were closed and it seemed as if nobody could leave their homes. Soon, the next school year came into the picture, and everyone started virtually.
“I had to be creative to keep it engaging while learning new teaching strategies along the way. It was harder to help students who didn’t sign in because I had no control over that whereas, in person, I could at least talk to them and get them going with the work better,” teacher Nikki Dorr said.
Then, we switched to hybrid; we would go to school in person for a few days, and then switch to virtual schooling; the students would take turns going to school during this time. This was going well for a while, until the school got rid of hybrid, making students choose between in-person or virtual. This was going well for some people, while others struggled due to all the new changes being made.
“Some challenges I’ve faced during the school year with COVID-19 was probably, balancing online classes and then my mental health. Some ways I’ve overcome this is by taking breaks, focusing on myself, and then doing my work,” freshman Kandi Colin-Ramirez said.
The 2021-2022 school year came, most students decided to do in-person schooling, while 900 DMPS students grades six through 12, switched to virtual. It was a fresh start for everyone, they even lifted the mask mandate, so students didn’t need to wear their masks. Everyone was doing fine until the different variants of COVID-19 came into place; this caused a lot of panic in the school. The mask mandate was put back in order, meaning we needed to wear our masks for the safety of ourselves and others. Teachers and students were getting sick, people were missing school; it was a disaster. This was when the law that required 100 percent in-person learning gave school districts no choice but to keep students in the classroom. As of Jan. 19, there was a total of 1,071.6 new cases in Polk County Iowa, and on Jan. 21, there was a total of 216 positive cases in Des Moines Public Schools. Though, students were sent to school even with the new spike in COVID-19 cases.
“I think virtual schooling would help since it’s not safe to be in school with COVID-19 getting worse,” freshman Jonathan Contreras-Silva said.