Here's which Des Moines area schools approved for online teaching after COVID-19 numbers increase

Robin Opsahl
Des Moines Register

Following a statewide mask mandate, the state of Iowa is allowing more schools to go fully online after encouraging hybrid model instruction with 50% in-person teaching for months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iowa Department of Education outlined that districts should see a countywide 14-day positivity rate average of 15% or a student absence rate of 10% before applying for a waiver, though exemptions are given. Recently, the DOE started approving requests to go fully online because of the increase in COVID-19 cases.

More:Map: Which Iowa school districts have requested waivers to move classes online full-time?

Here are the schools which gained approval to go online around the Des Moines metro:

Ankeny Community School District

Ankeny School District will return to full-time in-person learning Tuesday Jan. 19, after the school board approved the Superintendent's plan to move back. Through much of December, the Iowa DOE granted the district waivers to continue completely online learning as the COVID-19 pandemic surged, before returning to hybrid classes.

MORE:Iowa Department of Education grants online waiver for Ankeny schools

Dallas Center-Grimes School District

Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District voted Dec. 21 that beginning second semester, Jan. 19, students would return to school in-person five days a week, with an earlier end of classes each Wednesday. Since November, schools in the district have been using their hybrid model for learning, a plan which the school board approved to continue through the end of first semester.

Des Moines Public Schools

Des Moines students are back in the hybrid model as of Jan. 4, resuming partial in-person classes after having much of their first semester conducted fully online. While the district is back to having some classes in-person, families in the district are nearing another potential turning point: the start of second semester. 

Hybrid students are now split into two groups who are in the classroom Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday groups, with alternating Wednesdays. But if parents want their children to continue fully online learning, they can switch learning models to a fully remote option offered by the district at that time.

More:Des Moines secondary and high school students could be online rest of semester

Dowling Catholic High School

Private schools also have to apply through the DOE for exemptions to the state's 50% in-person teaching rule. Beginning Jan. 11, Dowling Catholic High School returned to in-person learning full time, after finishing out its first semester using hybrid and fully online options. Other Dioceses of Des Moines schools, including St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines and Holy Trinity in Des Moines, were also previously permitted to move online temporarily, the state's website shows.

MORE:Masks required at all Des Moines Catholic church events, according to the bishop

Indianola Community School District

Indianola school districts are continuing with different return-to-learn models at different age ranges. In December, the Indianola Community School District board voted to move the K-5 students fully on-site and eliminate their early dismissal for four days during the week beginning Jan. 21. Middle school and high school students will remain in a hybrid model.

When the full-time on-site learning format is adopted, families who chose the remote option will also be asked to make a new nine-week commitment to learning remote, versus the previous system which allowed students to move freely between remote and in-person learning plans.

MORE:Des Moines area schools shifting to online-only instruction

Southeast Polk Community School District

From Dec. 14 through Jan. 15, all elementary school students will return to full in-person learning while all secondary students will transition into a hybrid learning model, according to a December vote by the Southeast Polk School Board. On Jan. 19, at the start of the second semester, all students preschool through 12th grade will move to full in-person learning.

On Jan. 19, all students will transition into full in-person learning. The district will continue to offer full remote learning for families who want it.

More:Southeast Polk schools to return to the classroom Dec. 14; all students to transition to full in-person learning Jan. 19

Urbandale Schools

Urbandale students returned to the hybrid model Jan. 4. The School Board decided that the district will continue hybrid model learning through at least Jan. 25 in a meeting Jan. 11. From there, the board will reconvene and decide if the district will continue in their current model or switch to fully remote or fully in-person classes.

The district has been fully online since Nov. 16.

More:Urbandale School Board votes to extend remote learning waiver

MORE:Urbandale middle, high school students move to online learning

Waukee Community School District

Waukee schools give families the option to choose fully in-person and fully online learning for students, but as of a special board meeting Dec. 11, the Waukee school district has officially been in a hybrid learning model since Dec. 14. Waukee is one of the only central Iowa districts to move back to an in-person model.

MORE:Waukee School Board votes to move students to online learning Friday

West Des Moines Community Schools

As of Jan. 5, West Des Moines students have returned to fully in-person learning. The district has held fully remote classes since mid-November, a model which the School Board opted to continue through the end of 2020. The district's second semester begins Jan. 19, when students will continue to be either 100% on-site or 100% online, a district spokesman said. 

MORE:West Des Moines, Johnston and others shifting to online instruction

Robin Opsahl covers trending news for the Register. Reach them at or 515-284-8051.