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Iowa City school board delays first day by two weeks, yet to commit to in-person classes

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Board members for the Iowa City Community School District voted Tuesday to push their school calendar back by two weeks, to allow more time to finalize the district's return to learn plan.

The first day of school will now be on September 8 and school will end on June 11. Interim Superintendent Matt Degner said he believes the possibility of in-person schooling is higher in June.

Tonight, the Board voted unanimously to delay the start date for the 2020-21 school year. The first day of school for all learning models will now be Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

Posted by Iowa City Community School District on Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The district has been carefully waiting to make any official moves since getting trumped by Governor Reynolds on July 17, when she announced all schools must reopen at 50% capacity. Reynolds expanded on that on July 30, saying schools can only move online if their counties reach a 15% positivity rate for COVID-19 tests.

"The Iowa City Association of Educators is united with the district in opposing the July 30 guidance from the Reynolds Administration," Brady Shutt said, vice president of the local teacher's union.

Health officials say 7.13% of Johnson County residents getting tested for COVID-19 are positive, as of Tuesday afternoon. Despite being below the state threshold, the district submitted its application for an in-person exemption Tuesday.

"The metrics don't match up to our ask but we're asking for that permission and feel we have a strong case," Degner said. The district has repeatedly said it's worried about how University of Iowa students returning this month will affect the county's positivity rate.

Gov. Reynolds said Tuesday that if schools move to primarily remote learning without approval, those days will not be in compliance and won't count towards instructional time.

ICCSD board members will meet again next Tuesday at a scheduled meeting, where they expect to have an answer from the department of education.

You can see what other school districts are planning on KWWL's Return to Learn Page.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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