Thursday, May 20, 2021

Governor and GOP lawmakers immediately ban mask mandates in Iowa schools

(Radio Iowa) - Republicans in the Iowa legislature have voted to ban mask mandates in all Iowa schools, as well as in cities and counties. Governor Reynolds signed the bill early Thursday morning and it took effect immediately. It means mask mandates are no longer allowed in any Iowa school when school starts Thursday morning. Representative Dustin Hite, a Republican from New Sharon, says he's been fielding complaints about mask mandates since the pandemic began.

"You want to talk about something that's grassroots, this is something I've heard about -- I've lost count," Hite says.

Representative Marti Anderson, a Democrat from Des Moines, says face coverings are a part of the public health response to the pandemic.

"Don't we have a responsibility to protect the health of the people around us?" Anderson asked.

Representative Eric Gjerdes, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says banning mask mandates isn't based on science, it's based on perception.

"Masks make sense right now make sense for folks that are not vaccinated," he says. "The majority of students in Iowa schools have not been doubly vaccinated."

Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, says many parents in his district have had enough and they don't want their children wearing a mask in school.

"If we believe the vaccines work, if we believe that masks work, then fine. Get the vaccine. Wear the mask and don't worry about what other people are doing," Holt said. "You be you and you let them be them. This is about freedom."

Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, was among those who said the ban could prevent local governments from responding to future public health emergencies.

"Masks work," Bolkcom says. "They have worked and it's a good thing that local governments and school districts have taken it upon themselves to encourage the use of masks."

Senator Chris Cournoyer, a Republican from LeClaire, says it's time to learn from the lessons of the pandemic.

"Kids do get Covid. My children have had Covid. Kids get colds, kids get cancer and kids get the flu," Cournoyer said. "We cannot continue to live in an entire bubble."

The bill passed both the Senate and House early Wednesday evening. Any city or county ordinances requiring mask wearing in private businesses was immediately overturned when the governor signed the bill Thursday morning.

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