Working to Safely Start a New School Year at DMPS

NOTE: As Des Moines Public Schools continues to prepare for a return to school during the COVID-19 pandemic, and following new restrictions put in place by Governor Kim Reynolds during a news conference on Thursday, July 30, we are preparing some changes in our initial Return to Learn plan. We realize there will be many questions around the changes being considered, and we will provide more information in the days ahead. Click here to read a message Superintendent Tom Ahart shared with the DMPS community.

The closing months of the 2019-20 school year were unprecedented as we turned more than one hundred years of learning on its head in order to support our students through distance learning in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the work and support of our staff, parents and community, we not only continued the education of our students but together we distributed tens of thousands of computers, served more than a million meals, celebrated our newest graduates in a manner never done before, and so much more.

As DMPS plans for returning to learn for the 2020-21 school year, it will be even more difficult than what we accomplished over the past few months. With little guidance from the state or federal government, school districts are being expected to create a model that will both educate our students AND keep them and all of you healthy and safe.

School districts are also expected to create this model at a time of great uncertainly during the ongoing pandemic. The fact is COVID-19 cases continue to rise, both in our community and in many places across the country. While a few weeks ago most people were trying to plan for the second wave of COVID-19 later this year, the truth is the coronavirus’s first wave is not yet over.

This represents the preliminary plan for how DMPS hopes to begin a new school year.

Throughout the month of June, a team representing all areas of DMPS has been working on our Return to Learn plan. In the days ahead, many more details will be addressed and questions answered about how this plan should work. Please know that everyone involved in this work wishes we could return to school as we have year after year, and that this plan means significant changes for families and staff alike.

For our students and families, DMPS is proposing two options for the start of the 2020-21 school year:

One option students and families will have for the first semester of next school year is learning exclusively online. DMPS is investing resources in the expansion of our Virtual Campus to include K-8.  If families choose to enroll students in the 100% virtual option, they will be served by our K-12 Virtual Campus.

Based on our current reality in Polk County, DMPS will also offer students and families the option of a hybrid learning model. This will combine online instruction with a shortened in-person school week, in order to limit the number of people in our buildings. There will be one model for grades K-8 and another for high school.

Please see the section on Learning Models, in the menu to the right, for details on both options.

Finally, we appreciate your input. If you have questions or comments about the plan, please send a note via the comment form in the right-hand menu. In addition, thank you to the hundreds of families who participated in our series of virtual informational meetings in English and Spanish the week of July 6.

DMPS will be communicating on a regular basis with our families and staff, as well as sharing updates and additional information on this web site.