With the new year, new mask policies are being put in place in some Iowa schools and several districts are dropping their mask mandates as of today.
The CDC says all 99 Iowa counties are seeing high transmission of COVID-19, and Nola Aigner Davis at the Polk County Health Department says vaccines and masks remain the best ways to bring down the number of infections and hospitalizations.
“COVID-19 is not slowing down anytime soon,” she says, “and it’s especially not going to slow down after the holidays when individuals gathered with family and friends and travelled.”
In many cases, school boards decided to make masks optional because COVID-19 vaccines are available for school-aged children, but Aigner Davis says the change in policy is ahead of the numbers.
“This would be a reasonable step to take if we saw a high rate of individuals under the age of 18 getting the vaccine,” she says. “We are still not seeing high vaccination rates for children under 18.”
Masks are no longer required in several Iowa school districts, including Decorah, Linn-Mar, and Southeast Polk. Masks will become optional for West Des Moines students later in the month. Some school districts may require masks if there is a spike in coronavirus infections.
In Mount Vernon and College Community schools, a mask mandate will be reinstated if the COVID-19 positivity rate is higher than 2% in a school and the absence rate is over 8%.
(By Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio)