Cardinal School District administrators push for schools to reopen at Governor’s press conference

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 9:49 AM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, opened her Thursday press conference by introducing a local district. Administrators from Cardinal School District made their way to the state capital to share why they think schools should reopen in the fall.

“This is a rural school district that faces some significant hurdles in terms of poverty, which impacts the very important work that they do on a daily basis,” said Kim Reynolds.

In one of Iowa’s poorest counties, Cardinal Community School District faces tough decisions when it comes to sending kids back to school. Superintendent, Joel Pederson, argued that it’s important to send students back in person, so that the school can monitor which students are struggling at home.

”I worry about not having eyes on kids. We know from research that abuse issues are often found or reported at schools. Doctors do that. But schools play an important role in making sure that kids stay safe,” Pederson said.

Cardinal Schools plans on having students in the classroom when school begins on August 26th. But the district is offering a virtual option for students who opt out. Pederson says that while he’s pushing for students to come back in person, he understands the risk that it comes with.

“We know that there is going to be challenges that come up. We are working closely with public health and we’re getting guidance that allows us to make changes if need to be. (It) allows us to go to a hybrid model, to go to virtual if those numbers show that. And we’ll be flexible,” said Pederson.

One Cardinal parent, Ellis Codjoe, has two sons in the district. He says he supports the school’s decision to return to in-person learning; and fears that anymore time outside of the classroom may only widen the learning gap for his sons.

“My sons and countless other children never completed their school year. How much learning was lost over the 50 to 60 days the schools had to close their doors? I’m not sure that loss can be calculated,” Codjoe said.

As of now, only two Iowa schools will choose to disobey Governor Reynold’s reopen orders this fall.

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