The Iowa Department of Education declined the Urbandale school district’s request to extend 100% online learning for its year-round school, just a day before the formal application for online exemptions launches for all school districts.

Urbandale Superintendent Steve Bass informed families on Monday that a request to extend 100% online learning for students at Rolling Green Elementary was denied by the DOE, meaning the district will have to explore in-person classes.

Rolling Green, which holds classes year-round, has been doing online learning prior to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation requiring schools to have 50% in-person instruction.

“It seems as though we are collectively faced with one tough decision after another; perhaps that is to be expected when navigating a global health crisis,” Bass wrote in an email. “No matter how many tough decisions we are making, please know we are steadfast in our dedication to continuing to provide the safest and healthiest learning environment possible for all students and staff.”

During a press conference July 30, Gov. Kim Reynolds detailed plans for what school districts should do if a student tests positive for COVID-19 or the community spread of the virus is high.

School districts may request to go to 100% online learning for two weeks if their counties have a 15% positive COVID-19 rate in a two-week period and 10% of students are absent. Districts in counties with 20% and above may also request temporarily closing buildings or the whole district.

Bass said the Urbandale school board will hold a special meeting via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. Monday to determine next steps for Rolling Green Elementary.

Jim Flansburg, spokesperson for the DOE, confirmed that the department denied Urbandale’s request for an exemption.

Flansburg said Ames and Cedar Rapids school districts have sent in written requests, but no decisions have been made yet.

The formal applications to move to 100% online learning for two-weeks will become available for school districts on Tuesday, Flansburg said.