Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision to enact a law prohibiting Iowa schools, counties and cities from requiring masks has incurred threats of legal action from the Biden administration.
President Joe Biden announced Aug. 18 he is directing U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to “take additional steps to protect our children,” which “includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal actions, if appropriate, against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators.”
Cardona sent a letter Aug. 18 to Reynolds and Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo in which he said the ban on school mask mandates puts “at risk” school districts’ ability to “protect the health and safety of students and educators” and families’ “confidence that schools are doing everything possible to keep students health.”
Reynolds has defended her decision to ban the mandates, responding with the following statement, according to KCRG:
“We have a crisis at the border, a disaster in Afghanistan, and inflation is soaring. President Biden is failing on each of these issues, yet he is now launching an attack against governors like myself for trusting our people to decide what’s best for them. The President’s priorities are misplaced. I have had enough, and I know Iowans have too. I’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to defend and preserve the fundamental rights and liberties afforded to any American citizen.”
Reynolds’ spokesman Pat Garrett told the Associated Press Aug. 5 that masks can still be worn to school, “it’s just not required.”
Cardona said in a blog post on the U.S. Department of Education’s website the department would “take any necessary action” to ensure that school districts that receive Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds through the American Rescue Plan of 2021 can fulfill the requirement of adopting a plan for “safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services,” including paying full salaries of educators and school board members if Iowa levies financial penalties.
Des Moines Public Schools tweeted Aug. 18 an announcement that the Des Moines Public Schools administrative offices and its Smouse Professional Learning Center will be closed “until at least Monday” due to staff testing positive for COVID-19.
The highest percent of positive tests in the last seven days have been among 18-29 year old individuals, and children account for 13% of positive tests, according to Iowa’s COVID19 dashboard.
This article was originally posted on Iowa prohibition on mask mandates sees federal backlash