Iowa’s educators association says mask mandates must be an option for schools

WOWT 6 News Live at 10
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 11:35 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - As school districts across the country are trying to decide whether to require masks, the CDC is recommending all students and teachers mask up this fall. But in Iowa, school mask mandates are not an option.

“I’m nervous about it. I really am. I go back and forth,” said Fran Parr, referring to the decision whether to send her six-year-old twin boys back to school in Council Bluffs.

She said it would be a much easier decision to make if masks were required.

“Tremendously more so comfortable,” said Parr. “Because the strategy worked, they proved it worked last year.”

The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) told 6 News that school districts need control now as much as ever to make masks a must.

“The increase in the variant that’s exploding across our country,” said Mike Beranek, President, ISEA. “But right now they don’t have the strategy, the technique of requiring all students to wear masks.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was quick to dismiss the CDC’s new guidelines Tuesday, in a statement remarking she’s proud of the states’ decision to put laws into place last May preventing schools from mandating masks.

It’s a move that puts teachers in a tough spot, according to the ISEA.

“Not only is there the responsibility of our educators to teach our children, but now it will be heightened again to make sure our students are safe and healthy,” said Beranek, noting it’s not only about physical, but mental health as well.

“As we have put these bills into play there are unintended consequences that are occurring that are having direct effects on the academic performance of our students,” said Beranek.

When mask requirements were pulled last school year, Beranek said the peer pressure piled on.

“There were families that were telling their children to wear masks, but once they got to school they were left to feel they were doing the wrong things,” said Beranek, noting they are bracing for more of the same this time around.

“There will be families and there will be students who want to wear masks and they shouldn’t be made to feel inadequate or that they’re doing the wrong thing,” he said.

The ISEA is encouraging parents to talk with their children about masking, something Fran Parr is preparing to do.

“You know we’re going to have to have a heartfelt conversation with the six-year-olds and say, ‘hey listen this is what your mom and dad want you to do and we need you guys to watch out for each other,’” said Parr.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts also released a statement Tuesday in response to the new CDC recommendations, stating that schools should not require students to wear masks or be vaccinated.

Copyright 2021 WOWT. All rights reserved.