Meeting Public Comments

Subcommittee meeting and times are as follows:
A bill for an act relating to school districts and accredited nonpublic schools that deliver coursework using both in-person instruction and instruction using an online learning platform and authorizing parents and guardians to determine which instruction delivery method shall be used to provide instruction to students, and including effective date provisions.(See HF 229.)
Subcommittee members: Thompson-CH, Gobble, Smith
Date: Monday, January 25, 2021
Time: 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM
Location: RM 15
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.
Comments Submitted:

Jeff Fahrmann []
My wife and I have lived in the Ankeny school district for the past 15+ years. We have three kids who were enrolled in the district ages 13, 11, and 9. Last summer as it became clear that the Ankeny school district was moving forward with a hybrid option instead of fulltime inperson instruction, we made the difficult decision to unenroll our three kids. We did not believe the hybrid option would allow for the quality education that our kids deserve. The Ankeny school district refused to seek input from its parents, and instead made decisions based on recommendations from public health authorities and teachers unions. We ultimately enrolled our seventh grader in the Iowa Connections Academy online public school, while my wife homeschooled our fifth and third grader as well as a friends fifth grader. We were fortunate in that my wife has been a fulltime elementary teacher and had been most recently substitute teaching in the Ankeny district. Our younger two have done well with and enjoy being homeschooled by their mom, but our seventh grader would benefit from the social interaction that he would have with inperson school and wanted to go back to Ankeny schools to be with his friends. Once the Ankeny community school district made the decision to return to 100% inperson instruction in January, we reenrolled him in the school district. We saw first hand the negative impact that online schooling can have... at least on some kids. All that we ask is that parents be given a choice as it relates to their childrens instruction. Parents know what is best for their kids and should always have the opportunity to send their kids to school fulltime, 5 days a week. We support this bill that gives parents an option of either fulltime or 100% virtual instruction, which is what schools should have offered to begin with this last fall. Thank you for taking the time to read my email. We appreciate your service and consideration of our comments. Let me know if you have any questions.
Roger White [20000]
Fulltime inperson instruction requires teachers and other school staff members to be present at the school all day, 5 days a week and to interact in person with students and other school employees. When the state has ensured that these vulnerable individuals to Covid19 have been vaccinated and protected, then fine. Until then, it is not save nor healthy to require school staff members to endanger their own health and that of their families by being present all day, every day at the school building. This is particularly crucial for teachers and other school staff who are considered to be high risk for Covid, but applicable for all school employees. Vaccinate and then mandate!
Katherine Craven []
Requiring schools to offer in person instruction without the proper safeguards in place is irresponsible. This should not be required until all teachers have an opportunity to be vaccinated. Leave decisions up to local districts who know what is best for their students and staff.
Margaret Buckton [Urban Education Network]
Survey Data regarding in person, hybrid, and full time instruction from RSAI and UEN, including comments about barriers to 100% in person instruction is attached. UEN is registered as undecided on this bill and requests applicability of the mandated option for parents to chose full time learning when school personnel have the opportunity to be vaccinated, especially given the unknown nature of vaccine availability in both Iowa's rural communities and in urban centers that have so many health care workers first in line.
Jennifer Barrett []
Is this bill addressing any of the reasons why schools are going hybrid instead of full time? I think everyone wants their kids in school full time but there are reasons why schools made the decision for hybrid...they cant maintain social distance, they dont have enough PPE, they dont have enough staff, etc. If those issues arent addressed then mandating full time will just result in more cases, more quarantines and more kids at home which defeats the purpose.
Margaret Buckton [Rural School Advocates of Iowa]
See attached survey results from RSAI members about current delivery models of instruction in rural schools, many full time instruction and quite a few still in a hybrid or modified model to allow staff who are simultaneously teaching in person, hybrid, and virtual.RSAI would request an opportunity to have staff vaccinated before a mandate for full inperson learning is required. Please don't hesitate to ask any additional questions.