Source: Charlotte Pence Bond
Republican Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law on Thursday that bans mask mandates in schools, cities, and counties, joining a growing movement across the country as lawmakers take action against future mask mandates.
As reported by the Des Moines Register, the Iowa House passed the law by a 53-35 vote. The law also passed the Senate in a 29-17 vote. It was included in a broader education bill that would increase open enrollment in the state.
The law reportedly makes it so that Iowa school district leaders cannot enforce mask mandates on students or staff. Iowa cities and counties are also not allowed to create mask mandates under the new law. House Republicans said the amendment, which they put in the bill on Wednesday night, comes after receiving comments from the public and following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“This amendment comes from the citizens of Iowa,” Rep. Dustin Hite, R-New Sharon, said. “They come from my constituents, from your constituents — I’ve lost count of the number of emails, the number of messages, all of that that I have received on the topic.”
Democrats who were against the bill said that it could end up harming teachers and students and argued that it encroaches too far into the decisions made by local government officials. They added that it could also impair the capability to react to other future public health problems.
“We don’t know what’s coming down the road,” said Rep. Christina Bohannan, D-Iowa City. “And we shouldn’t tie the hands of local governments and school boards in responding to any kinds of future illnesses or threats.
Before the legislation passed, Governor Reynolds said that she would probably approve the bill. After it was passed, she quickly signed it into law.
“The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions,” Reynolds said in a statement. “I am proud to be a governor of a state that values personal responsibility and individual liberties. I want to thank the Iowa Legislature for their quick work in bringing this bill to my desk so that it can be signed into law.”
Utah’s legislature took similar action this week as it passed a bill that would ban schools from requiring people to wear face masks. It also prohibited higher institutions of education from requiring “proof of vaccination as a condition for enrollment or attendance” unless it allowed for specific exemptions.
According to The Associated Press, Republican Representative Val Peterson sponsored the Utah bill. Peterson “said county officials would still be able to invoke mask orders in consultation with local health officials in schools that have coronavirus outbreaks. The legislation only applies to COVID-19 and would not prevent people from wearing face coverings,” per the AP.
“At some point, this has to end,” Peterson said. “What this bill is really about is making sure we have those assurances to our students that they can go forward next fall and get right into the school year without the thought of masks and what that might mean.”
Mask-wearing in schools has been a controversial issue in many states. Earlier this week, a 10-year-old boy gave a passionate speech to a Florida school board asking them to put an end to the district’s in-school mask mandate.
As reported by The Daily Wire:
The fourth-grader told the Martin County School District in southeastern Florida that teachers often defy the mask mandate. He recalls one teacher who yells at students if they lower their masks to take a sip of water outdoors. The boy claims that he saw his teacher off school property and recognized her because she takes “mask breaks” at her desk, though she did not recognize him as the same privilege is not given to students.