Van Buren Superintendent: No Change to Mask Mandate, For Now

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In the aftermath of a federal judge blocking enforcement of the mask mandate ban in Iowa schools with a temporary injuction, a southeastern Iowa school district will not change its mask policy.

Federal Judge Robert Pratt cited the recent rise in Covid cases among Iowa children when he made his Monday ruling, paving the way for school districts across Iowa to impose mask mandates. Governor Kim Reynolds says the state will appeal the federal decision.

Van Buren County Schools Superintendent Jeremy Hissem says his district will let the issue work itself out in the courts but as of now, there will be no change to the district’s mask mandate.

“The initial reaction is slow down and wait for the appeal process to take its course and see what happens over the next five to seven days,” hissem said.

According to Hissem, masks will be required at Van Buren Schools if the county reached an outbreak of 1.1 percent. However, the current law barring mask mandates would have to be changed.

“For us, that would be 74 active cases on any given day,” Hissem said. “Yesterday (Monday), we were at 34 so we would need about double to reach our yellow phase and require masks if it was legal.”

Other school districts in Iowa have already made the decision to reinstate mask mandates. The Des Moines School District will be the first in Iowa to have its students, staff, and visitors wear face coverings. Des Moines Superintendent Thomas Ahart says the mandate will go into effect on Wednesday.

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