Governor Kim Reynolds says Iowa school officials who choose to mandate that everyone in a school building must wear face masks must seriously consider how to implement the policy.
“What type of a face covering will be allowed?” Reynolds asks. “…Who will be responsible for providing the face coverings and take the measures to ensure that they’re sanitary? Who will be responsible for tracking the appropriate use and storage of a face covering?”
State guidelines released last week for reopening Iowa’s K-through-12 schools said face coverings could be allowed, but it will not be a statewide mandate. That sparked criticism from the state teachers union and some school administrators. Newly posted guidelines from the Iowa Department of Education have a list of considerations about face masks. During a news conference this morning, the governor said schools must define what appropriate use means.
“What do you do during lunch? Naptime?…The other thing the CDC states is that cloth-based coverings should be washed after every use and it’s important to always remove face coverings correctly and wash your hands after handling,” Reynolds said, “so this is really important and it becomes problematic.”
Reynolds said the state’s epidemiologists help the state’s education department develop its “broad guidance” to schools about how to safely resume classes this fall in the midst of a pandemic. A mandatory face masking policy has what the agency calls “considerable implications” — and it’s also urging schools to teach students not to judge others based on whether they wear or don’t wear a mask.
Iowa school districts must submit “Return to Learn” plans to the state by tomorrow. The plans must include three components, outlining the option of in-person instruction in a classroom, an online-only option, and a third option that’s a hybrid of meeting inside the school building and taking classes online.