State Approves Waiver for DMPS Virtual Learning

Online Instruction November 16-30 in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic


Des Moines Public Schools joins a growing list of Iowa school districts seeking a waiver for virtual learning due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the state. The COVID-19 positivity rate is 17.6% in Polk County today as metro hospitals have announced they are at or near capacity.

The Iowa Department of Education informed DMPS this morning that virtual learning was approved for the period of November 16-30. (Click here to download a copy of the State’s letter to DMPS.) Both hybrid and virtual classes will continue as planned for the current week. All grade levels will begin virtual learning on Monday, November 16.

“While DMPS cannot stop the spread of COVID-19 single-handedly, we can and must do our part to slow it among our students, staff, and community,” said Dr. Thomas Ahart, superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. “We want to see all of our students back in school more than anything, but unless everyone begins to do their part in putting an end to this pandemic that is wishful thinking at this point in time.”

Under the waiver, DMPS would tentatively return to its current hybrid/virtual learning plan on December 1. The school district will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Polk County and plan accordingly.

Additional details and information will be provided in the days ahead as details become known, but the following are some key points for this change that begins next Monday:

  • CENTRAL CAMPUS: There will be no in-person classes during this period at Central Campus.
  • MEALS: DMPS will provide free meals to all students during this period; details on times and locations will be announced later this week.
  • METRO KIDS: The Metro Kids program will continue to serve families during this time. More information is available at the Metro Kids web page.
  • OFFICES: School district offices remain open and may be visited by appointment only.
  • SPECIAL EDUCATION: DMPS has been working with the families of IEP students to outline services to be provided if the district went to virtual learning. In some cases, these services will be provided on site for individual students during this time.
  • SPORTS & ACTIVITIES: Sports and in-person activities may continue through this weekend. There will be no athletic practices or games from November 16-30. Activities that have been taking place virtually may continue to do so.
  • TECHNOLOGY: Students attending hybrid classes MUST take home their laptop computer at the end of their last day of in-person classes this week.
  • VIRTUAL LEARNING: Education for students who are currently in virtual learning will continue as it has been. Education for students who are currently in hybrid learning will continue with daily synchronous lessons with their teachers; schools will provide students the schedule for online classes.

“We know this change means a sacrifice for our families, but our teachers and staff stand ready to do everything they can to support our students,” added Ahart. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 situation in Iowa means we must be apart for now so that we can hopefully be back together in school someday soon.”

More information about COVID-19 and its impact on DMPS and the community can be found at the DMPS COVID-19 Dashboard.