Senator Joni Ernst was asked a few different questions about COVID-19, mandatory vaccines and masking in schools. She was asked about the CDC’s recommendation that everyone in schools wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
“I think that’s best left up to our state and local school boards,” Ernst said. “I think those people are best in the know about what’s going on in their own community. I certainly wouldn’t want to mandate it across the board, especially as findings show that children aren’t as susceptible. I do think that we have to think about how mental health plays into this as well. We have just seen a lot of really horrible things over the course of the past year and I think things are best based on science and local conditions on the ground. I don’t know that we should mandate that from the federal government.”
Ernst said if a family wants their child to wear a mask, it’s “entirely appropriate” for that family to make that decision, “as well as local school boards,” she added.
“I do believe that the people closest to the situation are the ones that should be making that choice.”
Another reporter asked Ernst if she is disagreeing with the state law passed toward the end of the legislative session that prohibited school boards from requiring masks.
“No, I did say that state and local school boards, but I do believe that the people closest to the situation, and, I think there’s probably a lot of school boards that would say we don’t need our children wearing masks,” she said. “If they want to do it for teachers and so forth, that’s entirely up to those school boards.
“But yeah, if the legislature has passed that, then the school boards should, you know, of course follow state law. But again, it’s a family decision and if people feel strongly about it, then their children can wear masks. I don’t believe the state legislature said they couldn’t wear masks if it’s a family decision, it just couldn’t be the school’s decision. But, yeah, I do believe our school boards know what’s going on in their communities.”
Ernst said she opposes mandating the vaccine, but believes everyone should be encouraged to receive the injection.
“I just think that we need to encourage everyone to get the vaccination,” Ernst said. “I’m opposed to mandating it. Of course, for the general population, I think that’s a personal choice. But I do think that if we want to protect our loved ones and we want to protect others that are vulnerable, I think we all should be getting vaccinated. I think it’s really important.”