Dave O'Connor

An open letter to the Des Moines School Board

Dave O’Connor teaches at Merrill Middle School in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

On October 14, the president of the United States held a superspreader event at the Des Moines Airport for 6,000 mostly un-masked, non-socially distanced supporters. Governor Kim Reynolds was right at his side. He did it on the same day that our neighbors in Wisconsin, who are now at the epicenter of the pandemic, opened a field hospital with 500 beds to try to relieve pressure on their overtaxed hospital system, and only eight days after hospitalizations for COVID-19 reached an all-time high in Iowa–a record that has been surpassed multiple times since.

And just for good measure, the rally directly violated the governor’s own emergency proclamations, which require organizers of mass gatherings to “ensure at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual attending alone.”

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Science and the governor's Return to Learn proclamation

Dave O’Connor teaches at Merrill Middle School in Des Moines -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds’ Return to Learn proclamation, announced on July 17, was disheartening and disingenuous to Iowans, especially local education leaders who had already spent thousands of hours working on their district’s plans. It is causing anxiety among many groups of Iowans.

Many teachers and school administrators were made to feel powerless by the proclamation. I certainly felt that way as I watched the press conference unfold. But we are not powerless. We still have voices, pens, and keyboards that allow us to speak truth to such arbitrary and dangerous use of power. This piece seeks to do just that, by delving into the science and data the governor claims to have based her new policy upon.

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