Governor blocks Iowa schools from opening "safely and responsibly"

Governor Kim Reynolds loves to boast that Iowa “led the way” in bringing kids back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic, “and we did it safely and responsibly.” The talking point was debatable last year, since Iowa’s new cases and hospitalizations began surging several weeks after schools reopened.

It’s laughable now, as Iowa schools prepare to welcome kids back this week. While the Delta variant has caused spikes in pediatric cases and hospitalizations where schools are already in session, Reynolds and leaders of Iowa’s education and public health departments have blocked nearly every practice that helped reduce COVID-19 spread in schools last year.

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Mask mandate bans put Iowa parents in untenable position

Tara Lanning: During a Delta variant surge, all former safeguards in Iowa schools are gone. -promoted by Laura Belin

I live in Waukee with my husband and our two kids. Someone in our family is immunocompromised, and my mom has fought cancer twice, so when COVID-19 struck, we played it safe. We signed up for a grocery delivery service; we cooked more than we ever have before; we declined all social opportunities; we skipped celebrating the holidays with our family. We adjusted, and we sacrificed.

Last August, we made the difficult decision to pull our 7- and 10-year-old kids from their elementary school to be independently homeschooled. While Waukee did offer virtual instruction, I knew it wouldn’t be a good fit for my kids, who both have unique learning differences.

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Where are the community leaders who will protect our kids?

Tanya Keith: Who will step up for my child who is too young to be vaccinated?

Since I wrote last week asking if Governor Reynolds would be willing to put kids’ well-being ahead of politics, I have seen a shift in the order of the universe. So many parents offered words of support, a group of women began organizing a “Safe at School Sit In” for next week, and I started the Facebook group “Iowans for Universal Masks In Schools.”

Iowans did such a great job reaching out to elected leaders that one called me today to ask if they could pass along my contact information to parents who have inundated their office with requests to end the ban on mask mandates. More than 650 people have joined the Facebook group In a little more than 24 hours.

That’s a good start for week 1, but yesterday my son reported that only about 20 percent of the kids at his high school orientation were wearing masks. I recently learned of COVID-19 outbreaks at two Metro Kids Des Moines Public Schools daycare facilities. These things are already happening and school doesn’t start for almost another three weeks.

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Can Governor Reynolds put Iowa kids' well-being ahead of politics?

Concerned parent Tanya Keith reached out to Governor Kim Reynolds’ staff and interviewed infectious disease Dr. Megan Srinivas. -promoted by Laura Belin

Less than a month before school starts, Governor Kim Reynolds is putting politics ahead of my daughter’s life and well-being. I am one of the thousands of Iowa parents bearing the burden of having a child under 12, who is too young to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Anyone following pandemic science updates has been fed a daily diet of rising concern. First, the World Health Organization recommended that all individuals mask inside, even if they are vaccinated. Then the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all K-12 students be masked, regardless of vaccination status. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control just echoed that guidance.

As an Iowa parent, I know that it is currently against the law for masks to be required at school. If you’re reading this from another state, that may sound bizarre, but I assure you it’s true. In May, Reynolds signed a bill in the middle of the night to ban mask mandates, so schools were left scrambling to come up with new policy days from the finish line of a grueling academic year.

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Iowa Public Health abandons COVID-19 safety in schools

Governor Kim Reynolds told Iowans this week to “lean further into normal,” since “There’s no reason for us to continue to fear COVID-19 any longer.”

Iowa Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia obliged with new guidance urging schools and child care providers to “approach COVID-19 like other child illnesses.”

To justify abandoning precautions like mandatory face coverings and quarantines for children exposed to coronavirus, Garcia misrepresented the latest advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

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Governor endorses plan targeting Iowans on public assistance

A longstanding effort by Iowa Senate Republicans to reduce the number of Iowans receiving various forms of public assistance got a quiet boost last week from Governor Kim Reynolds.

For the first time, the governor’s draft human services budget included provisions that would create asset tests for federal food assistance and require the Iowa Department of Human Services to establish a new “eligibility verification system” for Medicaid and several other public assistance programs.

State Senator Jason Schultz has pushed similar legislation for several years running. Each session, Senate Republicans have approved the bills, which died in the House Human Resources Committee (see here and here).

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