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Education Playbook

This playbook provides guidelines for public and private K-12 schools, community colleges and universities in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Specific university departments are encouraged to consult the playbooks for other industries that are closely related to their own core services as appropriate.

Sample: K-12 Public School Risk Profile

Education Risk Profile Frequency

Education Risk Profile Duration

Education Risk Profile Variety

This risk profile has been determined for K-12 public schools in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*

Current Impact 

Current Impact

Future Trends 

Future Trends

Recommended Practices 

Recommended Practices

Community Partnership 

Community Partnerships

Additional Resources 

Additional Resources

Current Impacts

With schools closed for the safety of students, teachers and staff, educators have rolled out virtual learning for the remaining months of the 2019-2020 school year. Federal testing requirements were waived for all 50 states in recognition that students face different challenges while learning from home. Additionally, Gov. Kim Reynolds suspended high school graduation requirements for seniors. One of the largest challenges faced by DSM students is a lack of access to high-speed internet, particularly in some rural areas. Some educators expect that online learning will result in lower test scores as well as an enrollment decline of 15%. Across the state, nearly all colleges and universities moved to online instruction, with the exception of some technical and lab courses that will be completed at a later date.

High-Speed Internet

Lack of High-Speed

Student Test Scores

Lower Test Scores
for Students

Graduation Requirements

Suspended Graduation

Future Trends

Standardized Testing

Optional Standardized Testing

A growing number of universities across the United States are making standardized testing requirements, such as the ACT, SAT or AP scores, optional for 2021 applicants. These include Ivy League schools like Cornell University and Harvard College. Universities say that they are waiving the testing requirements because they are unable to predict what economic or personal disruptions students will experience. The schools say that students "will not be disadvantaged in any way if [they] do not submit subject tests."

Education Voluntary Learning

Voluntary Learning

Since Gov. Reynolds declared all schools closed through the remainder of the school year, districts have submitted plans for handling distance learning. Many high schools submitted plans requiring high school students to learn virtually, while lower grades would be offered the opportunity to participate in voluntary enrichment programs.

Education Fall 2020

University Classes in Fall 2020

Universities across the nation are preparing contingency plans for resuming classes in 2020. Many universities have moved their summer instruction online and are hopeful that in-person classes can resume on campus in the fall. However, Harvard epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding states that universities need to make various plans for delayed start and even intermittent closings and re-openings that could last through 2022 should coronavirus outbreaks continue.

Education Online

Online Learning

Schools across DSM began transforming themselves into fully online learning environments in March, and may continue to do so intermittently throughout the next school year. In order to prepare for online learning, schools should use the summer break to prepare teacher and student instructions for online teaching tools and to develop new teacher and student performance metrics. Additionally, schools should prepare feedback surveys to send to students during online learning semesters to assess a student’s level of learning and instructor performance. Instructors should use the feedback to modify their approaches and/or tools used (Google Hangouts versus Blackboard, discussion boards versus essays, etc.) to fit students’ needs until online teaching becomes more familiar.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Screen children upon arrival. See detailed CDC screening methods for childcare providers.
  • Have a plan if someone becomes sick and require sick children and staff to stay home.
  • Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • When feasible, staff members and older children should wear face coverings within the facility.
  • Encourage vulnerable staff to talk to their healthcare provider to assess their risk and determine if they should stay at home.
  • Universities should prepare to have quarantine spaces available for students who become infected with COVID-19. These should not be shared dormitory rooms with community bathrooms.

Education Health

Space & Process

  • Limit number of people in each room according to updated public guidelines.
  • If possible, classes should include the same group each day, and the same instructors should remain with the same group each day.
  • Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering lunch times and keeping groups separate for other class activities.
  • Set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance of the facility, so that children can clean their hands before they enter. If possible, place sign-in stations outside, and provide sanitary wipes for cleaning pens between each use.
  • Consider staggering arrival and drop off times and plan to limit contact with parents as much as possible.
  • Ideally, the same parent or designated person should drop off and pick up the child every day. If possible, older people such as grandparents or those with serious underlying medical conditions should not pick up children, because they are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting. Routinely clean, sanitize and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, like doorknobs, light switches, bathroom facilities, countertops, desks, chairs and lockers.
  • If a cafeteria or group dining room is used for meals, serve meals in a classroom instead. Plate each child's meal to serve so that multiple children are not using the same utensils.
  • For now, all athletic events, large lectures and other large gatherings will have to remain online or be canceled.
  • Universities should adopt contact tracing apps to protect student health if a COVID-19 case emerges on campus.

Education Processes


  • Communicate to parents the importance of keeping children home when they are sick.
  • Communicate to staff the importance of being vigilant for symptoms and staying in touch with facility management if or when they start to feel sick.
  • Place posters describing handwashing steps near sinks.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns to the employer.
  • Develop a communications plan for sharing announcements and news with students, faculty, staff, school boards, government officials, communities served by the school, associations and any accreditation bodies.

Education Communication

Community Partnerships

Business Partnerships

Mediacom is partnering with Des Moines Public Schools to provide free installation of internet services for 1,800 student households, enabling Des Moines Public Schools students to continue online learning into the foreseeable future. This was a collaboration between Des Moines Public Schools and Mediacom, supported by the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.

Restart Your Career

Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) launched a new campaign called "Restart Your Career" to provide furloughed or laid off workers the opportunity to enroll in affordable short-term trainings or continuing education courses.

Additional Resources

Recommended Playbooks

The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.

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Human Resources
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Information Technology
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Operations Button

Sales and Marketing
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*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 5/11/2020