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Iowa governor signs bill prohibiting mask mandates in schools and businesses

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation into law Thursday that blocks mask mandates from being implemented in K-12 schools and prohibits cities and countie...

Posted: May 20, 2021 2:18 PM
Updated: May 20, 2021 3:30 PM

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation into law Thursday that blocks mask mandates from being implemented in K-12 schools and prohibits cities and counties from requiring facial coverings in businesses.

Under the new law, public and private schools cannot enforce or implement a policy requiring school employees, students, or visitors to wear a facial covering while on the premises -- unless for a 'specific extracurricular or instructional purpose' or as required under existing Iowa law for eye and ear protective devices. Masks can still be worn optionally.

Cities and counties will not be allowed to require property owners to have a mask policy 'that is more stringent than a policy imposed by the state.'

While states are starting to relax mask policies in the wake of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance released last week allowing vaccinated people to go maskless in most cases, Iowa joins a small set of GOP-led states going further in pressuring localities to lift their mask requirements and ensuring that masks mandates won't be enforced again after the pandemic.

'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, a Republican, said in a news release Thursday about the legislation. 'I am proud to be a governor of a state that values personal responsibility and individual liberties.'

The new mask provision was part of a larger education bill, HF 847, related to open enrollment and expanding tax programs. The bill was passed on party-line votes by both Republican-majority chambers of the Iowa legislature Wednesday, the last day of the legislative session, and House Speaker Pat Grassley posted a video to Twitter after midnight that showed him delivering the bill to the governor for her signature.

'Parents, now you get to make the choice on whether your kids will wear a mask or not,' he wrote in his early Thursday post.

Iowa school districts have begun compiling with the new law, while still strongly recommending its staff and students wear masks to protect those not yet vaccinated.

Des Moines Public Schools, one of the state's largest school districts, said face coverings would be optional in its buildings effectively immediately, but that it would continue to 'strongly encourage masks while indoors' due to the 'size of our district, limited space in our buildings and the number of students still unvaccinated.'

'Face coverings are still the best method available to protect the unvaccinated,' the district said in a statement. 'Masks will continue to be required on school buses in accordance with a federal order requiring masks on all public transportation.'

Iowa is not the only state this week to issue such a mandate. In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday prohibiting state governmental entities such as counties, public school districts, public health authorities and government officials from requiring mask wearing.

The executive order allows Texas public schools to continue current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4. And starting Friday, local governments or officials attempting to impose a mask mandate will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

Meanwhile, the Utah Republican-led legislature also sent legislation to the governor for his signature that will prohibit public schools and universities in the state from requiring mask mandates after the end of this school year.

According to the bill, schools will be banned from 'requiring a face covering to participate in or attend instruction, activities, or in any other place on the campus of the institution after the end of the spring semester in 2021.'

The measure also prohibits colleges and universities from requiring proof of a vaccination unless it allows for medical and religious exemptions.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926931

Reported Deaths: 9740
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1809132056
Ramsey749811054
Dakota68505591
Anoka64961589
Washington41119367
Stearns34021287
St. Louis29939416
Scott26281188
Wright26260226
Olmsted22677131
Sherburne19206130
Carver1687671
Clay12219108
Blue Earth1162171
Rice11578139
Crow Wing11318124
Chisago1005281
Kandiyohi9913108
Otter Tail9908130
Benton9174128
Beltrami8249100
Goodhue822699
Douglas7967101
Itasca779999
Mower740049
McLeod723384
Winona715158
Isanti711085
Steele695034
Morrison678681
Becker631675
Polk608987
Freeborn569947
Carlton552577
Mille Lacs539479
Lyon532961
Nicollet528561
Nobles527954
Pine521143
Cass505255
Todd496443
Brown473661
Le Sueur464736
Meeker437960
Martin391344
Waseca381433
Wabasha380110
Dodge366412
Hubbard357649
Roseau320532
Fillmore310115
Wadena306040
Redwood283845
Houston275317
Renville271651
Faribault261835
Sibley256017
Pennington254830
Kanabec254437
Cottonwood232933
Aitkin225052
Chippewa222043
Pope209910
Watonwan201121
Yellow Medicine189925
Koochiching179225
Rock178429
Swift174124
Stevens170211
Jackson162016
Clearwater159421
Marshall154822
Murray152911
Pipestone150929
Lake134124
Lac qui Parle124425
Wilkin122016
Mahnomen108314
Norman10579
Grant102410
Big Stone9585
Lincoln8915
Kittson74623
Red Lake71810
Traverse6086
Unassigned563124
Lake of the Woods5285
Cook3141

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 527597

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Unassigned18890
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
Ringgold78429
Audubon77617
Adams5869
Rochester
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