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Mason City legislator Steckman voices displeasure on bill requiring schools to hold in-person classes

Mason City Democrat Sharon Steckman (Iowa House video)

DES MOINES — Governor Reynolds on Friday signed into law a requirement that Iowa’s K-through-12 schools hold all classes in-person by February 15th, but not after one north-central Iowa legislator voiced her objections to the bill.

Mason City Democratic Representative Sharon Steckman says the law has nothing in it to help school districts or their staff.   “It simply tells schools to get back to to work full-time ASAP. Two weeks. No mention of the CDC recommendations such as improved ventilation systems, wearing masks, it doesn’t even mention social distancing in the bill. Nothing is required of schools but to get those kids back in there, we don’t care if it’s safe, we don’t care if the teachers get sick, get them back in the classroom, that’s all we care about.”

Steckman says Republicans are going against their typical philosophy of giving more local control to schools.  “Our school boards are elected by local people. They were elected to make decisions based on particular considerations for their school districts. I always thought the Republicans were all about local control but I guess only when it suits.”

Steckman says she doesn’t understand how the 15 public school districts and a private school that are currently offering classes virtually or in a hybrid model with students in classrooms every other day can be ready to go to all in-person classes in two weeks. “I don’t know. I’ve asked this before. What are your priorities? Is it a good education for our kids? Is it holding our teachers up with respect for what they do? I’m not seeing it. I don’t see it in this bill. There’s nothing in here except get your ass back at school.”

During her remarks at the bill signing ceremony, Reynolds said the state has face shields, hand sanitizer and other pandemic essentials on hand, ready to ship to school administrators who ask for supplies.

Schools may continue to offer online classes to students, but it is not required. Holding classes in-person on each school day is.

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