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Biden threatens legal action on Iowa’s mask ban in schools

DES MOINES — President Biden has ordered the U.S. Education Secretary to explore whether a civil rights law gives the federal government authority to overturn state bans on mask mandates in schools. Iowa is one of six states that forbids local school officials from requiring students and staff wear face coverings at school.

“If you aren’t going to fight Covid-19, at least get out of the way of everyone else who’s trying,” Biden said. “You know, we’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children.”

In May, Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican lawmakers passed a ban on mask mandates in schools. The U.S. Education Secretary sent Reynolds a letter yesterday. It says blocking Iowa schools from taking science-based steps to stop the spread of Covid may infringe on the authority of school boards to adopt plans for the health and safety of students and school staff. Last month, Reynolds said requiring masks indoors is not grounded in reality or common sense and punishes Iowans who’ve been vaccinated.

“We’re telling people to get vaccinated, first and foremost,” Reynolds said. “I’ve been very clear about that. That is the best defense to Covid.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health’s website shows 48% of Iowa residents are fully vaccinated. About 20,000 Iowans got their first Covid shot in the past 7 days.


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