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Advocates criticize Des Moines school board vote

Says decision hurts non-white families

Advocates who help families of color and refugees in the Des Moines area said they disapprove of the Des Moines school board’s decision to continue online learning for now, which they argue disproportionately hurts non-white families and those in lower socioeconomic conditions.

The Des Moines school board voted Tuesday to move to a hybrid learning model that would comply with the state’s 50 percent in-person requirement.

However, the school district will continue to offer 100 percent virtual learning until Polk County’s COVID-19 infection rate is under 5 percent — a number that’s been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, but significantly lower than the state’s 15 percent threshold for moving to online learning. Polk County’s two-week average rate of positive COVID-19 cases was 7.4 percent as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the state’s data.

“I feel like we have two clear objectives as a board,” said Des Moines school board member Rob Barron. “One is to get our community on a path towards bringing kids back into our buildings. The other is to listen to the staff who are worried about their health and safety when they’re back in that building.

“We are balancing two very, very opposing interests that are derived from the same place,” Barron said.

Advocates criticize Des Moines school board vote to continue online learning for now

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