DES MOINES – In a Thursday, August 26, news conference, Iowa Senator Zach Wahls, called on Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to smarten up somehow on her anti-mask stance for schools.
Right now, Iowans want two things from our local schools.
First, they want schools to be open, and to stay open. That’s the best way to get all Iowa kids back on track. Most kids are ready to attend school in person, with their teachers and classmates.
Second, and this should not be controversial, Iowans want our schools to be as safe as possible. This is not an either or proposition.
We can do both.
Studies show that, despite the pandemic, schools allowed to respond to local conditions, can be safe for virtually all students.
But Iowa has a problem that many other states don’t have. Governor Reynolds has refused to let Iowa schools make the decisions necessary to protect their students, their teachers, their staff and their parents from COVID-19.
It is a fact that her state budget, written by Republican legislators, provided zero additional dollars to fight COVID-19 in our state.
And it is a fact that Governor Reynolds has rejected 95 million federal dollars last April to help Iowa schools reopen safely.
Since that mistake, we’ve seen new Iowa COVID cases increase sharply. Most new cases, because of the Delta variant, which we know is more infectious than previous variants.
And we know that Governor Reynolds signed a law banning safe mask policies in Iowa’s schools and in other public places. And when she signed that law, she was surrounded by anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists.
The Governor’s mistakes and political posturing are endangering children and threaten to further disrupt the education of all K-12 students in Iowa.
Governor, you need to change course. Now, there are a few ways that you should do this.
First, Iowa’s lucky that the $95 million in rejected federal funds is still available. We can use it for detection, for vaccination, for improved air filtration and circulation systems, and other common-sense steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa’s K-12 schools.
All the governor has to do is pick up the phone, and call President Biden’s administration, and tell them that she has changed her mind.
We need to get those federal dollars to Iowa’s schools right away. We’ve wasted enough time during this public health emergency.
We can request the additional dollars from the CDC. That money will pay for more in-school testing and contact tracing. It will help protect kids, teachers, parents and communities from the continued spread of the Delta variant.
Finally, the Governor should use her emergency powers to suspend the dangerous mistake that she made last May. That’s when she made it illegal for Iowa schools to make the decisions necessary to protect our communities from COVID.
The Governor needs to focus on the science, the science.
Ignore the dangerous nonsense from people like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and other anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists in the Republican Party.
Listen instead to Iowa parents. They just want their kids safely back in their local schools, learning and preparing to take their next steps in life.
Governor, do what’s right for Iowa kids, and do it today.