During much of the 2020-21 school year, this web page reported and shared regularly-updated data on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Des Moines Public Schools, including metrics on the safest ways to educate our students in the midst of this global public health crisis. With the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year this web page is no longer being updated.
Providing Information on COVID-19 at DMPS
Des Moines Public Schools values transparency and will balance providing as much information as possible with respecting student and staff medical privacy rights. Our health services staff, including school nurses, has decided that COVID-19 information should be shown on a districtwide basis for now. This will avoid identifying individual students or staff who are absent due to a COVID-19 illness or exposure.
The following dashboard will be updated daily on school days and will include DMPS cases confirmed by Polk County over the past 24 hours as well as the total number of confirmed positive cases.* We will also information on the status of the district’s health metrics, approved by the School Board, to guide decisions around virtual, hybrid and in-person learning models.
*weekend and holiday COVID-19 positive cases will be added on the next school day.
Des Moines Public Schools COVID-19 Tracker
|Other (Admin, Oper, etc.)||0||55||0||0|
Number of Staff In Quarantine
Number of Students In Quarantine
*The positive cases shown are the total number since September 8th, the first day of classes. This table is updated each school day.
DMPS school nurses verify positive COVID-19 cases each day with the Polk County Health Department; however, PCHD maintains the official record for the county.
Des Moines Public Schools COVID-19 Metrics
The Des Moines School Board approved the following as a guide should COVID-19 conditions in the community change and require further discussion and action on the learning models being used to educate students during the pandemic.
Students remain in remote (virtual) instruction except for some Central Campus, IEP, ELL and other students.
All students NOT registered as full-remote will be served in-person for at least 50% of their instruction over every 2-week period.
All students NOT registered as full-remote will be served in-person 5-days a week.
|Positive Cases per 100,000||100 or more per 100,000 total in previous 7 days||11-99 per 100,00 total in previous 7 days||
10 or fewer per 100,000 total in previous 7 days
|Positivity Rate *
(Positive tests in last 7 days)
|Above 10% positivity||5-10% positivity||
Below 5% positivity
|Student Absenteeism **||10% and above for adjusted student attendance||
|Staff Absenteeism||10% OR 5-9% for a sustained period (greater than a week)||
5.0-9.9% for a brief time
|Shaded cells indicate current status. Chart updated on June 3, 2021|
Positive cases per 100,000 population is a widely used metric to assess disease activity. A per population measure uses a static denominator, and is an adequate means to determine whether activity is contained, surging, or uncontrolled.
Positivity Rate *
Percent positivity is used in influenza monitoring to determine when activity is widespread. Positivity is not reliable in a situation where testing fluctuates. The percentage may surge in an outbreak but may not adequately describe the magnitude of a surge. The Full Remote threshold is a level suggested by the CDC. This level was exceeded in the late summer COVID-19 surge. The White House Task Force considers 100 cases per 100,000 to represent uncontrolled spread. The source of the figure in the above table is from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Student Absenteeism **
Student absenteeism is building-specific and may indicate a school-based outbreak. Student absenteeism metrics recommended by the CDC are substantially lower than those set by the Iowa Department of Education. The figure in the above table is the difference between the average attendance rate of the past two years and this year for students attending in person on a given day. The adjusted student absenteeism figure reflects in-person attendance under the hybrid learning model. While classes at DMPS are virtual this figure is not included in our COVID-19 dashboard.
Staff absenteeism is also building-specific and may indicate a school-based outbreak.
State-Mandated and Other Metrics
Before the Iowa Department of Education will consider allowing online learning during the pandemic, the Governor has proclaimed that schools must have at least 10% absenteeism and the COVID-19 positivity rate must be at least 15%. These numbers are not consistent with national guidance and are also higher than those used by other U.S. states. However, the Courts have affirmed Gov. Reynolds has the authority to choose these thresholds. Below is the current positivity rate in Polk County.
In addition, Rt, or Effective Reproduction Number, is a key measure of how fast the virus is growing. It’s the average number of people who become infected by an infectious person. If Rt is above 1.0, the virus will spread quickly. When Rt is below 1.0, the virus will stop spreading.
Current Polk County COVID Positivity Rate
Current Polk County Rt
Determining Possible Infection in School
If DMPS students or staff have symptoms of COVID-19, the school nurse may send the individual home for up to 14 days, or until a doctor verifies a different diagnosis. If your child has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive individual, has been asked to quarantine or has symptoms of COVID-19, DO NOT send them to school. Call the school nurse or your healthcare provider to determine next steps.
Please use the COVID-19 Symptom Tracker to check your child for signs of illness before departing for school each day.
Hybrid Learning Health & Safety Concerns
Participation in the hybrid learning model does carry an increased risk of being exposed to COVID-19. DMPS will do everything we can to lessen that risk, but cannot prevent anyone from being exposed to, contracting, or becoming ill from COVID-19. Parents should consult with their child’s healthcare provider about the advisability of attending school in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. DMPS will implement steps recommended by public health officials, such as:
- requiring face coverings in school buildings and buses
- social distancing to the largest extent possible (although DMPS cannot consistently provide 6+ feet of distance between students and staff)
- encouraging proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, cleaning and disinfecting
- collaborating with public health on contact tracing efforts
Parents who do not believe these steps will adequately protect their child and family may enroll in the 100% virtual learning option.
Additional Resources & Information
SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES: Des Moines Public Schools is committed to offering quality resources to families, no matter their chosen learning model. For information about childcare services, help finding a doctor, financial assistance and more, visit our Online Family Resource Guide. If you would like someone from the district to contact you about a need in your family, fill out our Student Services Contact Form and someone will be in touch to assist you.
INFORMATION ON COVID-19: Accurate health information about COVID-19 is important as people around the world respond to help put an end to this global pandemic. Stay informed and look for information on Coronavirus from reliable and trusted expert sources:
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Polk County Health Department
COVID-19 MONITORING WEB SITES: The following web sites provide updated information on COVID-19 cases and related information: