DES MOINES, Iowa – Des Moines Public Schools announced that while they would like to implement a mask mandate in their buildings as students return to school, only the state of Iowa can mandate them.
“In accordance with Iowa law, the DMPS Board of Directors will not be issuing a mask mandate for the start of the 2021-22 school year,” Dwana Bradley, chair of the Des Moines Public School Board of Directors, said in a released statement.
She then expressed her disagreement with Iowa law.
“We realize many parents have concerns. We are also concerned about the potential for the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, especially among our unvaccinated elementary school students. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend universal masking in schools for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. It is abundantly clear to the experts that when everyone wears a mask, we keep kids healthy and in school, and most importantly we save lives as we wait for the vaccine to become available to our children,” Bradley said.
“However, the Governor of Iowa and the state legislature have created a law that restricts us from using our most effective tool short of vaccination in the fight against COVID – universal masking. The Governor is the only person who can give us permission to use universal masking to protect everyone as the Delta variant surges in Iowa. So far, the Governor has declined to do so, and she has given us no indication of how many children will need to be infected before she will consider allowing us to use this essential resource,” she added.
Critics disagree stating negative outcomes from requiring children to wear masks. Also, other countries are taking other concerns, like stress and the children’s ability to properly wear masks, into consideration. Ireland’s Department of Health announced “it is known that children will have a lower tolerance and ability to use the face covering properly, and use of face coverings by teachers and staff caring for very young children may cause undue stress to the children”.
The United Kingdom also does not require children to wear masks in school and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control does not recommend children wearing masks in primary school (under 12).
Currently, none of the hospitalizations in Iowa are children under the age of 17.
Bradley encouraged students to wear masks regardless of a lack of a mandate.
“Remember: wearing is caring. Listen to the health experts and do the right thing for your child and their young friends. Please mask up in school,” she said.