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This year was unlike any other for families of school-age children. Time and again House Republicans listened to parents talk about what was going on – or in many cases what was not going – in their children’s schools.

Last summer and fall, parents let their voices be heard with pleas to allow their kids back in the classroom.  The 2020 election provided proof that parents knew if legislators were listening or not as several Democrat-held House seats flipped to the Republican candidate over getting kids back in school.

House Republicans listened and then quickly delivered. On January 29, Governor Reynolds signed Senate File 160, effective immediately, that put the choice in the parent’s hands whether they wanted their kids to be attending school in-person or virtual.  Under the bill, schools are required to provide a 100% in-person option and left it up to the families to decide what was best for their own child. Most school districts in the state of Iowa were offering in-person learning and those that weren’t, felt the effects with students leaving for nonpublic schools or open enrolling out. The Des Moines Public School’s Superintendent is facing disciplinary sanctions due to him not following the law about getting kids back in school. Parents were, and continue to be, grateful for in-person learning and the swift action of legislative Republicans and Gov. Reynolds to make Iowa the first state in the Midwest to get school buildings back to normal.

Then, again after hearing parents voice many concerns, legislators addressed kids being forced to wear masks in schools even as COVID-19 metrics plunged and vaccination rates skyrocketed. House File 847, among other things, no longer allowed schools to mandate kids to wear a mask.  Effective upon enactment on May 20, parents and families decided for themselves what was best for their child. Schools and school boards can no longer dictate if masks are worn on school property. This in no way prevents schools from having protective gear for certain classes like welding, or not allow maintenance workers or janitors from wearing masks for specific work-related reasons. It also does not prevent anyone from wearing a mask if they choose to do so.

This does not prevent the Governor from being able to issue mask mandates under a public health order issued by the Governor, but the school cannot make that decision unilaterally.  At the federal level, President Biden has issued an executive order stating that masks must be worn on public transportation. The CDC issued a subsequent public health order stating that this included school buses. This has not been updated or rescinded. School districts should consult with their legal counsel regarding their mask policy on buses.

With rumblings from school officials in some districts about bringing face masks back every year for the normal flu season, House Republicans listened to the parents and put them back in control of their children’s education and their children’s health care.

Author: Press Release