Parents, children, and medical professionals gathered just outside the Iowa Capitol today to urge Governor Kim Reynolds to let Iowa schools require masks for students and staff.

Tanya Keith is the mother of three. Her youngest is six and not eligible for a vaccine. She opposes the bill Reynolds signed into law at the end of the last school year that forbids mask mandates in schools.

“I call it the ‘Midnight Mask Massacre’. They signed the bill with no public input. They started this thing in May when we didn’t know about the Delta variant,” Keith says. “And it’s o.k. People make mistakes. It’s time for the Iowa GOP and the governor to say: ‘Things have changed.'”

Rows of shoes were positioned at the rally to symbolize school employees who’ve died of Covid. Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease doctor from Fort Dodge, was among those who spoke at the sit-in.

“Our state leaders are standing in the way of doing the right thing of not enabling us to wear masks to use the science to protect our kids,” she said.

Governor Reynolds issued a written statement, saying she trusts Iowans to make decisions “about what’s best for themselves” and “parents have the option to send their kids to school with a mask or not.”

(By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio)