Return to Learn Board Statement
The Board of Education of the Waukee Community School District (WCSD) and the Superintendent do not agree with the guidance stated in the Governor’s Press Conference on July 30 and released by the Iowa Department of Health (IDPH) and Department of Education (IDOE) regarding the transmission rate levels that would allow a district to transition to 100% online learning.
The guidance states a county’s positivity rate over 14 days must be more than 15% AND absenteeism at 10% or higher before a district can request permission to completely shift to online learning. And that permission is only granted in two-week increments.
We believe in local control and this circumstance is no different. We further believe decisions regarding the health and safety of our students, staff, and the general community are best made by those most closely associated with the decision-making. And, repeated sources of expertise indicate that a more reasonable percentage to consider closure is most frequently cited at 5% and generally ranges from 3% to 10%. These numbers are an indication of where we expect the matrix numbers to land as it relates to the decisions for a temporary move to online.
Additionally, a reminder to our Governor, IDPH, and IDOE officials of what the laws of our state allow.
Iowa Code Section 274.1 provides that public school districts in Iowa shall have exclusive jurisdiction in all school matters within their individual school district territory;
Iowa Code Section 279.8 authorizes local school boards to establish rules for the governance of their own respective school districts.
Iowa Code Section 274.3 provides that local school districts’ statutory grant of power should be broadly construed. Currently, districts are allowed to call an inclement weather day if the weather conditions present an increased risk in getting students and staff to buildings safely. It would seem that the same logic would follow for local decisions related to the pandemic. For this reason, the WCSD Board of Education, and the Superintendent, will not be following the guidance set forth on July 30. We will not request permission from the IDOE to temporarily change our learning model should the need arise.