State Won’t Require Masks at Schools but Districts Can 1

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Education has released a more detailed list of guidelines for districts before schools can possibly reopen in the fall, following criticism last week.

While Tuesday’s guidelines provide more information, they keep a major part of the guidelines the same: Students and staff will not be required to wear masks inside the buildings as a way to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The virus forced Gov. Kim Reynolds to close schools last March.

The department initially released guidelines for schools last Thursday and then issued a statement Friday after receiving criticism, including from the Iowa State Education Association.

“What type of a face covering will be allowed?” Governor Reynolds said Tuesday as she reminded district leaders what they must consider when creating policies about masks, “Who will be responsible for providing the face coverings and ensure that they are sanitary? Who will be responsible for tracking the appropriate use and storage of a face covering?”

The governor said the state’s flexibility to allow districts to decide on their own whether to require or only recommend masks will better fit future needs.

“We certainly hope that we don’t have a resurgence or second round,” the governor said, “But if we do, we are in such a better place right now and the reopening guidance does the same thing. It provides flexibility for school districts to look at a lot of different options and apply what they feel is in the best interest of their students and their educators to continue to make sure that we’re providing students a high quality education.”

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