MUSCATINE, Iowa–Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law early May 20 that immediately bans schools from requiring masks and prevents cities and counties from mandating masks in businesses.
“The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions,” Reynolds said in a statement: “I am proud to be a governor of a state that values personal responsibility and individual liberties. I want to thank the Iowa Legislature for their quick work in bringing this bill to my desk so that it can be signed into law.”
Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks in most settings. However, the CDC recommends that schools continue to encourage wearing masks through the end of the school year as kids under the age of 12 cannot yet receive COVID-19 vaccines.
To comply with the new law, Muscatine Community School District updated their mask policy the day the governor signed the bill. While the district encourages all individuals to wear masks in school buildings, they can no longer require it.
An unexpected change to Iowa law, Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson expressed concern about unintended consequences from the new legislation. “The ill-timed passage of HF 847 with lack of planning or adherence to IDPH and CDC guidelines is very confusing,” she stated: “It is also counterintuitive to businesses and organizations who are attempting to reopen their services to the public. It is possible that some services will remain closed, continue with a virtual format, and/or reclose as a result of HF 847. Forcing school districts, cities, and counties to pivot their service delivery overnight with lack of guidance or support creates an unnecessary burden.”