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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

Schools have had to rapidly adapt to a new learning environment over the summer, rolling out plans for in-person, hybrid and all online school environments. Most Iowa universities plan to offer a combination of in-person and online classes, with in-person classes focused on technical and lab courses that cannot be completed remotely. According to the Governor's Proclamation of Emergency signed 7/17/20 and guidance from the Iowa Department of Education. K-12 schools are required to provide 50% of instruction for core classes in-preson, otherwise they will need to make up the time in the future for students to receive credit. Additional guidance from the Iowa Department of Health and Iowa Department of Education issued 7/30/20 specify that school districts may request permission to hold more than half of their classes online if the district is in a county where 15% of people tested for the coronavirus are positive and if the schools have absenteeism rates above 10%.

High-Speed Internet

Lack of High-Speed

Student Test Scores

Lower Test Scores
for Students

Graduation Requirements

Suspended Graduation

Future Trends

Standardized Testing

Transition to Online Learning

Amid surging cases of COVID-19, the Iowa Department of Education has seen an increase in school districts asking the state for waivers to temporarily transition to online-only learning. Some colleges and universities are also switching to the full virtual delivery of classes for the remainder of the fall semester.

Education Fall 2020

Revised Academic Calendars

Universities across the nation have restructured their academic calendar to reduce students' travel off campus. Most colleges and universities have turned towards a semester where the final few weeks of the semester are online, sending students home before Thanksgiving so they do not need to return to campus for finals. During the spring semester, spring breaks have been eliminated to limit coronavirus spread.

Education Online

Contact Tracing

Both K-12 schools and universities are developing contact tracing and testing plans if and when a student or faculty member test positive for the virus. Schools will need to be adaptable, offering hybrid plans for students who will need to quarantine for 14 days. Some schools throughout the U.S. that have resumed in-person learning have faced challenges with having to quarantine large amounts of the student population due to a few cases.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Consistent with IDPH guidance and school policies, staff or students who are ill should stay home. Employees who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should take precautions, including self-quarantine, in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • 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: 8/20/2020