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Democrats press Reynolds to let local schools decide mask policies

DES MOINES — Iowa Democrats are calling on Governor Kim Reynolds to let local school districts with rising Covid cases require face coverings to try to stop the spread of the virus.

“If we learned anything about the fight against Covid-19, it’s that one-size-fits-all policies don’t work,” Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls of Iowa City said during an online news conference.

The number of Covid cases among kids is on the rise. Iowans under the age of 18 accounted for 22% of the new Covid cases confirmed in Iowa this past week. During a news conference at the capitol, Reynolds said the state law she signed in May forbids mask mandates in schools — so parents decide whether their child wears a mask at school.

“They will make an informed decision on what’s the best thing for their child,” Reynolds said, “and that’s where I believe it needs to stay.”

Reynolds said she’s heard from parents who say mask wearing has harmed their kids. Representative Ross Wilburn of Ames, who is the Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, said many respected public health institutions are recommending masks in schools.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control, just to name a few have all recommended a multi part approach in responding to the pandemic and that includes masks,” Wilburn said.

Governor Reynolds said such a recommendation would be meaningless because school mask mandates are illegal.

“It doesn’t really matter because it’s a law at this point,” Reynolds said. “…It is a law that elected officials that are elected by Iowans and constituents across this state listened to the people that they represent, passed a bill, sent it to my desk and it was signed into law.”

Reynolds said vaccinations are the best tool for combating Covid-19. Earlier this month, the Iowa Department of Public Health issued an advisory that warns Iowans not to use a horse drug as treatment for Covid.


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