Some teachers, parents, and school board members are speaking out against Iowa Gov. Kim Reynold's in-person learning mandates. Congressional candidate Rita Hart hosted a virtual roundtable about school re-opening plans.
Tara Schochet from the elementary PTA in Iowa City says her school district was in constant communication with parents as the board decided to hold classes remotely. She says it wasn't an easy decision, but with the recent spike in coronavirus cases, it was the only decision that made sense.
"I'm very frustrated," she said. "The school board that worked so very hard and so dilligently to make the best choice for the families and staff have been told that they can't do that, that all their work is basically for nothing. And now they're back to the drawing board, trying to figure out: how do they do what they think and know is right?"
Diane Pritchard is a retired schoolteacher in Clinton County. She may no longer be in the classroom, but she's organized volunteers across the region to sew free masks for schools, businesses, and healthcare workers. She says the work she does saves lives, but it's not going to save every life.
"I'm not optimistic enough to believe that we won't have some cases and that we won't have some deaths. I've already lost friends to COVID who had no business getting sick," Pritchard said. "They were healthy, they did everything they could to protect themselves, and they still died. So, we're doing what we can."
Hart says it's important to get kids back in schools as soon as possible, but public health takes precedence.
"If we put them back in school, and then don't do it right, and then we have to shut it down all again, what have we gained?" Hart said. "And so, it's really important that we get kids back to school, but that we do it in a way where we know they can stay in school."
Rita Hart is running for congress in Iowa's second district.