Deadline Now for Iowa Schools to Submit Reopening Plans; Masks Not Required

DES MOINES, Iowa - New guidelines from the Iowa Department of Education don't make any statements about face masks for students or teachers.

The department issued guidance last Thursday specifically not requiring face masks or health checks. It issued a followup statement Friday after receiving criticism, saying more clarification would be needed.

Governor Kim Reynolds said in a news conference Tuesday that the state's flexibility to allow school district to make their own decision whether to require masks would be a better fit.

" It provides flexibility for school districts to look at a lot of different options and apply what they feel is in the best interest of their students and their educators to continue to make sure that we’re providing students a high quality education,” said Reynolds during a news conference in Steamboat Rock, Iowa.

The Department of Education has been criticized for not following CDC guidelines more closely that encourage face masks and social distancing.

A spokesperson for the teacher's union, the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), called the absence of a statewide mask mandate for schools "obscene" last week.

Iowa K-12 schools must submit their "Return to Learn" plans for how they'll conduct the upcoming school year to the department by Wednesday, July 1st.

They'll be allowed to start classes both remotely and in-person on August 23rd, but only if they submit their plans on time.

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