As a district, we are planning for two modalities to best serve our students – 100% virtual and hybrid. All students must participate in one or the other. It’s important to know that, at any time, we may need to go 100% virtual in the event of a spike in COVID-19 cases in our county or in a school. The district will work in collaboration with state and local agencies to determine if and when a full closure is necessary. Our plan must be agile enough to operate between these two modalities should the need arise. Parents/guardians will be asked to make a choice when registering your student(s) for school based on your plans for the entire first semester.

Early Childhood programs are preparing for virtual learning and will make decisions on a hybrid model based on enrollment numbers. Low enrollment may allow us to safely distance students and staff and bring all students back four days per week. Full enrollment would require a hybrid plan similar to K-8.


100% Virtual Learning Model

Teachers and students are engaged in instruction through Canvas and virtual meeting platforms. The district is working to put as many courses online as possible, but the course options will not be as expansive as they have been in the past. This model includes attention to access, social emotional needs, engagement, and community partnerships.

Hybrid Model

Students attend school for in-person instruction on a rotating schedule in order to reduce the number of students in a building on a given day. When they are not in-person, they will be engaged in virtual learning. This model includes attention to access, social emotional needs, engagement, and community partnerships.


100% Virtual Learning Model
DMPS is investing resources in the expansion of our Virtual Campus to include K-8. If families choose to enroll your student in the 100% virtual option, your student will be served by our K-12 Virtual Campus. More details related to Virtual Campus can be found at https://virtualcampus.dmschools.org/. Information on K-8 is now available.

Hybrid Models
Based on our current reality in Polk County, the District is making every effort to start school with a hybrid learning model. This will require us to spread students out in an effort to implement safe distancing. A hybrid learning model will be different across levels (elementary, middle and high) based on the physical size of the buildings and the number of students enrolled.

K-8 Hybrid Model
Some students will likely enroll in the full virtual option due to health, safety, or other concerns. All other students will report to the physical school building at least two days per week and engage in virtual learning the other three days. Every Wednesday will be a fully virtual day to allow for school-wide cleaning and sanitation.

K 8 hybrid chart

  • The number of students attending the physical building each day will be reduced by half to support safe distancing.
  • This schedule would potentially allow us the time and space to bring vulnerable students in for additional in-person support and instruction.
  • Strong community partnerships will need to occur to serve and support students when they aren’t receiving in-person instruction.

High School Hybrid Model
Due to enrollment and the capacity of our high schools, we are considering a rotating schedule for high school students to receive a blend of both virtual and in-person instruction. The cohort model being considered is described below.

  • Term 1 = Aug 26-Oct 28 (students enroll in 3-4 classes)
  • Term 2 = Nov 4-Jan 15 (students enroll in 3-4 classes)
  • 4×4 schedule
  • A grade level per day with Wednesday as a full virtual day for all students and staff for school-wide sanitation

High school hybrid chart

  • When a teacher is not in class physically, s/he is available to those students live online through Teams. Teachers will report to the school Mon-Tues and Thurs-Fri (unless medically exempt).
  • This schedule would potentially allow us the time and space to bring vulnerable students in for additional in-person support and instruction.
  • Strong community partnerships will need to occur to serve and support students when they aren’t receiving in-person instruction.
  • Central Academy will be 100% virtual to eliminate cross-school exposures.

Supporting All Learners

Students with Disabilities
Ensuring equitable learning opportunities to enable students with disabilities to progress in Iowa Academic Standards and social emotional learning continues to be the aim of IEP and 504 teams. Our Return to Learn Plan relies heavily on decisions made by each student’s IEP or 504 team and the five guiding principles offered by the Iowa Department of Education:

    1. Health and safety is the first consideration.
    2. Children with disabilities are entitled to an equal opportunity for participation in any service provided by a district, including modifications and supplementary aids and supports as necessary.
    3. To the extent practicable, strive to maintain a sense of normalcy for children with disabilities during this public health emergency.
    4. To the extent that health and safety comes into tension with an administrative or procedural requirement, default in favor of health and safety and consider responding to the administrative or procedural requirements once this public health emergency has resolved.
    5. Parents must be involved in any decision about an individual child’s placement or services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Early ACCESS, or Section 504.

The IEP team will review the specialized services and supports prescribed in the current IEP. They will also document the status of the services and supports during the school closure, as well as the effect of that level of support and service. IEP teams will then ascertain individual needs and determine if the IEP should be amended or rewritten to reflect changes to services and supports, which will include a fully virtual learning plan that can be implemented at any time, if needed.

Special education teachers will continue to collaborate with general education teachers to provide scaffolds, accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities in both physical and virtual settings. Special education teachers will communicate frequently with families to ensure student needs are being met in both the physical and virtual settings.

English Language Learners
84% of English Learners in the Des Moines Public Schools have enough English to access grade level content, albeit with teacher support. Our Return to Learn plan asks teachers to resist the temptation to “remediate” content for students especially those populations with achievement gaps such as English Learners.

  • ELL Teachers will continue to collaborate with mainstream teachers to build lesson supports for ELL students in both physical and virtual environments.
  • ELL Teachers will work with students and families using translators (Bilingual Family Liaisons) to ensure that basic, technical, and social emotional needs are met in the case of virtual learning being a necessity.

16% of English Learners in the Des Moines Public Schools have not acquired enough English to access grade level content without receiving a great deal of instructional support from both ELL teachers and mainstream teachers. This population of students can achieve limited success with virtual learning that is asynchronous. A more effective approach is to provide students with a combination of online content and small group video conferences with an ELL teacher. ELL teachers will reach out to students and families to ensure that their technical needs are met in order to increase student success.

  • ELL Teachers will continue to provide our neediest English Learners with language acquisition instruction in both physical and virtual environments to get these students to a point where they can access grade level content with a greater degree of independence.
  • ELL Teachers will work with students and families using translators (Bilingual Family Liaisons) to ensure that basic, technical, and social emotional needs are met in the case of virtual learning being a necessity.

Prioritizing Social Emotional Well-Being of Students

The social emotional needs of our students continue to be a high priority. We understand that many students and families may experience trauma as a result of COVID-19. A system for tracking and monitoring the needs of students is being built to ensure each student receives the academic and social emotional supports he/she needs to experience high levels of learning.