As the 2021-22 school year has unfolded, our communities have been extremely supportive of our children returning to school. We are grateful for the support and all of the help. There also continues to be questions and concerns about how our school districts are managing mitigation efforts, including following the adopted Iowa State Law, House File 847, which prohibits school districts from mandating face-coverings on our properties.
We are aware of Linn County Public Health’s letter sent to all Linn County School District’s Board of Education directors last week articulating an interpretation of the aforementioned law. In a most recent press conference with Linn County Public Health, it was suggested that school districts find a way to challenge the law and consult with our attorneys.
Iowa Code section 280.31 makes clear that school districts cannot adopt policies or procedures requiring students, employees, and visitors to wear face-coverings in school buildings. After consulting with legal counsel, school districts are political subdivisions of the state of Iowa and are required to follow the law, regardless of public or personal opinion or belief. We cannot simply ignore the law. Violating the law could result in ramifications including litigation, accreditation, licensure, student learning, and substantial disruptions to the school environment. Iowa is the only state which prevents facial-covering mandates in schools via state law; other states have regulations or proclamations.
We will continue to monitor developments at the state and federal level and will adjust our protocols as warranted by law and fact. All students, employees, and visitors are allowed to wear masks on our properties and follow all applicable CDC guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Covid-19 is continuing to impact our schools, and we will continue to layer mitigation efforts as we are able to do so. Safety continues to be our priority, and we strongly encourage everyone to follow mitigation measures at home and in the community.
Linn County Area School District Superintendents