Tuesday, April 28, 2020
This week the governor announced a new website to give Iowans better access to testing, and give public health officials a better idea of how Iowa is progressing through the pandemic. It helps the governor make decisions on the activities safe to reopen and areas or activities needing to remain closed for a little longer. I would encourage everyone to take the assessment at TestIowa.com and determine whether you should get tested. Iowa has purchased hundreds of thousands of coronavirus tests and those tests will be available soon. This website is the best way to collect the information on where additional testing is necessary in our state and help make the best decisions for our state.
There is an increasing push to open the economy back up and get life back to "normal" as soon as possible. The governor is working closely with federal, state, and local partners to reopen the state as soon as practicable. Indeed, the governor indicated at a recent press conference that northwest Iowa could be a place in Iowa to begin reopening the economy, to better understand the impact to public health and the economy, and use it as a template for reopening other parts of the state. I am generally supportive of this effort. When the legislature resumes session in the coming weeks, I am hopeful the effort to reopen the economy will be underway, while encouraging vulnerable individuals to continue to practice public health mitigation strategies to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Recently, Governor Reynolds announced schools would be extending their closures for the remainder of the school year. She also announced the Iowa Department of Education would waive instructional time requirements for the remainder of the school year, direct schools to provide continuous learning and require schools to submit a "Return to Learn" plan. This plan will guide schools as they address the disruptions to learning this year in preparation for the fall academic school year.
The Iowa Department of Education released updated guidance on continuous learning as schools and families work to adapt to these changes. It answers a number of questions parents may have concerning their child's education and how they are going to keep learning and keep up with school work while staying at home. Many school districts have been working with families to ensure they can participate in continuous learning online or with paper packets. You can find updates and information on continuous learning at educateiowa.gov.
The Iowa Legislature continues to plan its work to complete the 2020 legislative session. A number of policy and budgetary matters still need to be addressed this year. When the legislature reconvenes, it will continue to be mindful of the guidelines for large group gatherings from the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health, making sure to do its part to manage the spread of the virus.
Many resources are available for those who need them. We have been working to make sure you are aware of all of those at your disposal, ranging from questions on unemployment or business support, to information on COVID-19 and the statistics in your area. We are still all in this together, and while it may be difficult, we need to keep being responsible and staying home if we feel sick, washing our hands often, and staying six feet apart from others. If we keep doing this, we can start working back toward normal routines again and do some of the things we have been missing. If you have questions about anything as we continue to work our way through this pandemic, please feel free to contact me.