3 states, and others, move quickly to ban school mask mandates
Schools in Iowa and Texas can no longer require students or staff to wear masks to stymie the spread of COVID.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law Thursday morning that prohibits schools, cities and counties from making anyone wear masks, the Des Moines Register reported.
“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, according to the Des Moines Register.
“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,” Reynolds said.
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Iowa’s Republican lawmakers said parents had pushed for the bill, the Des Moines Register said.
Despite CDC guidance urging the continued use of masks in schools and the fact that children under 12 are still not eligible for vaccinations, Iowa’s move reflects a growing national shift away from school mask requirements as COVID cases and hospitalizations drop rapidly in most communities.
On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot banned school mask mandates by executive order, The Texas Tribune reported.
“The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities,” Abbott said in a statement, according to The Texas Tribune. “We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”
Utah may soon follow. The state’s legislature has passed a mask mandate ban Wednesday despite concerns about the impact on impact unvaccinated students, the Desert News reported.
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Proponents said students would benefit emotionally from ditching masks. “It’s really about the mental health of our students,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Val Peterson, said according to the Deseret News.
In Kansas City Public Schools, however, officials say they may require masks through summer as three elementary schools grapple with a COVID outbreak, Fox 4 reported.
The district has one of highest COVID rates of any in the state, according to Fox 4.