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Iowa school districts make decisions on mask mandates

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa school districts are deciding whether to require masks after a federal judge blocked the state law prohibiting mask mandates in schools.

In the Cedar Rapids Community School District, a mandate is in place starting Wednesday. Meanwhile, Solon Community Schools have said they will not be requiring masks. Many others are still trying to decide. Linn-Mar told us their school board would have to meet in a special session before any changes are made there.

Jonna Higgins-Freese has kids in the Iowa City Community School District, they’re discussing the issue at their board meeting Tuesday night. She’s part of the group that started a petition for the district to require masks which garnered more than 1,200 signatures.

“We know that this is a community where people are very concerned about science, where they’re very concerned about health and safety,” Higgins-Freese said.

Kyle Hane and his family moved to the state last year. He was a part of the group protesting masks outside of Novak Elementary School in Marion last spring. He and his wife chose not to send their children to public school, in part, because of mask requirements.

“If you want to put a mask on your child I guess you can do that, but don’t put one on mine, that’s it,” Hane said.

Hane said for his family, it’s about the freedom to choose.

“This is America. I don’t know when we forgot that, or when these people never were taught that but you have the right to breathe. You have the right to choose what is best for your children. And if we give that up it’s a slippery slope,” Hane said.

Higgins-Freese said, for her, pushing for a mask requirement in schools is about protecting health.

“It’s just one of the things that we need to do in our new normal to take care of each other,” Higgins-Freese said.

Dr. Emad Abou-Arab, with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said he thinks the recent court ruling was a step in the right direction for public health.

“I am encouraged with the federal judge’s ruling and this can allow the schools to do what’s been recommended by the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics and that is universal mask wearing in schools. The school board has a responsibility to its community and a mask mandate for schools is in the best interest for the community,” Abou-Arab said.

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