Iowa Public Health Association calls for statewide mask mandate for back-to-school

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 2:48 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - An organization of public health officials in Iowa is urging Governor Kim Reynolds to issue a statewide mask mandate as part of back-to-school plans.

The Iowa Public Health Association lays out two key steps it sees as vital to allowing for a safe return to school: local control and requiring everyone to wear a mask.

“Short of a statewide mandate, cities and counties must be allowed local control to follow the evidence and put in place mitigation strategies to protect their residents,” the statement reads.

On local control, the group says each school district should be able to make its own decisions on how to respond to COVID-19 safety needs. That runs contrary to the mandate last week from Governor Kim Reynolds that districts must return for at least 50% in-person classes.

“We must trust their ability to deliver exceptional educational content, whether in person or online, while meeting the health and safety needs of all involved – kids, teachers, nurses, custodians, and beyond,” the association says.

The Association warns against making responses to COVID-19 a political debate and, instead, focusing on public health recommendations and science.

“Iowans deserve Return to Learn plans that are based on the expertise of our public health leaders and are flexible to meet the needs of each community,” the statement reads. “A successful school year requires trust in the public health system, and that trust must be reinforced by elected and community leaders across the state.”

In recent weeks, the Gov. Reynolds administration has stepped up encouragement of wearing a mask with its Step Up, Mask Up campaign. Governor Reynolds and other health leaders have shared pictures of themselves wearing masks while encouraging Iowans to act responsibly.

Be like Dr. Pedati! Wear a face mask while out shopping to protect yourself and others. Help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa. #StepUpMaskUpIA

Posted by Iowa Department of Public Health on Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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