JOHNSTON — Governor Kim Reynolds says she is not yet ready to recommend Iowa’s K-12 school closures be extended due to coronavirus concerns.
“Initially, we recommended schools closing for four weeks (and) said we would reassess it, too,” Reynolds said Wednesday afternoon, “so we continue to, every day, evaluate where we’re at as a state and what or if additional steps need to be taken.”
Reynolds last week signed legislation that ensures schools are not required to make up any missed days through April 10th. Governors in other states have ordered schools to be closed for a longer period. Wisconsin’s schools, for example, are closed through at least April 24th. Iowa’s governor said it’s just too soon to say whether Iowa students may be returning to class on April 13th, or staying home.
“I am not at a place that I can say we hope, at this point, we’ll be able to do something different,” Reynolds said, “because, you know, it is fluid.”
Reynolds told reporters her education director has assembled a task force to examine how online learning could be implemented statewide and ensure every child has access, but the group has not made any recommendations.
“We continue to every day evaluate where we’re at as a state and what or if additional steps need to be taken,” Reynolds said.
The governor of Minnesota has just issued a “Stay at Home” order and the mayor of Cedar Rapids has sent a letter to Iowa’s governor, urging her to do the same. Reynolds addressed the issue during her daily news conference.
“Many of the steps that we have already taken are equivalent to the ‘stay at home’ orders that we are seeing in several of these states,” she said, “like closing schools and some businesses, implementing work-from-home and distant learning and reducing gatherings to 10 people.”
Reynolds said those steps reduce the risk that COVID-19 patients will overwhelm the state’s hospitals.
“It’s important, also, that we keep Iowa open for business in a responsible way that protects the health of our people and our economy,” Reynolds said.
On Tuesday night, there were 23 patients being treated for COVID-19 in an Iowa hospital. According to the governor’s spokesman, there are currently 280 ventilators available in the state that are not in use and Iowa hospitals are using federal guidelines to convert anesthesia machines into ventilators.