2021 REWIND: UPDATE – Iowa High School principal refuses to allow unmasked students into building, deputy threatened arrest for ‘disruption’

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***This was one of the most popular stories of 2021 here at The Iowa Standard. Thankfully, it seems things worked out, though it was a heck of a situation as it was unfolding.***

I-35 high school principal Steve Kaster kept students from entering the building on Wednesday afternoon due to their refusal to wear a mask.

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After the incident in the morning, parent Nathan Gibson had talked with the Madison County Sheriff, Jason Barnes, who said nobody would be arrested for not wearing a mask in the school.

Gibson then took his children back to school so they could learn on Wednesday. When they buzzed in, the school refused to allow them entrance. Kaster told Gibson they could put the masks on or leave.

Kaster denied Gibson the opportunity to sign the students in for school.

“If you want to come back into school you know what that needs to look like for your children,” Kaster said.

When Gibson told the kids to go to class without their masks, Kaster refused to allow them in, saying they understand their options — wear a mask or do remote learning.

Gibson was told by a sheriff’s deputy that anyone who causes a disruption would be arrested. The deputy told Gibson the board has the policy to enforce a mask mandate.

Gibson told the officer he was being refused entry to sign his kids into the school in which they are enrolled.

“And he goes, ‘the school board has set the policy mask mandate and I’m enforcing that. Anybody who causes disruption I will arrest,'” Gibson said, referring to deputy Kinney. “They didn’t let us in. They would not let me sign my kids into school.”

Madison County Sheriff Jason Barnes reiterated that his office would NOT enforce a mask policy.

“We don’t enforce school policies, procedures or rules,” he said. “If a student for example violated a dress code, we don’t enforce that either.”

The school does, however, have the authority to remove people from their property and a trespassing issue would arise and someone refusing to leave could be charged with trespassing, Barnes added.

“If someone was asked to leave the school for whatever reason and this office was called, we’d respond and we would ask them to leave the property,” Barnes said. “We will not be arresting anyone for not wearing a mask.”

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