Gov. Kim Reynolds

(Webster City) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is weighing in on whether students and instructors should be back in school buildings when the new academic year opens late next month.

At a news conference in Webster City late Tuesday morning, the governor says emphasis should be placed on returning students to classrooms--but safely.

"Within the next several weeks, schools will begin reopening," said Reynolds. "And, while the school year will be different than it's ever been before, it's critical that we prioritize bringing Iowa's children back to the classroom. But, of course, we do it in a safe and responsible manner."

Each school district was required to submit a Return to Learn plan by July 1st, detailing procedures for in-person or virtual learning, or a hybrid of the two options as they pertain to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. Reynolds believes the best place for students is in school buildings.

"As school districts are being innovative, I believe that school districts and teachers know without hesitation that our kids need to be in the classroom," said the governor. "We are doing them a disservice by not opening these buildings back up, and getting them to school. But, we have to be flexible, we have to think outside of the box, and we have to look at different alternatives. So, giving parents the options, with kids that have underlying conditions, or someone in the household that does, to go 100% on-line, that's a parent's choice, and we must certainly should offer that."

Reynolds adds the state will work with school districts to ensure enough instructors and substitutes are available as the state enters the next phase of reopening schools.

"Kids are less likely to get it," said Reynolds. "They're less likely to spread. There's some pretty good data out there that would help alleviate maybe some of the concerns. But, we know, also, the data says if you're of a certain age group, an older population, and have underlying conditions, you are ones most impacted by COVID. So, we need to take that into account when we put the infrastructure in place."

The governor expects to hold another press conference addressing the state's Return to Learn plans for this fall later this week.

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