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Iowa educators scramble to keep kids safe with mask mandate ban in place

Posted at 6:16 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 23:14:24-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — Iowa educators are hammering out plans to keep kids and staff safe but requiring masks isn't an option. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill banning mask requirements in schools and cities.

With superintendents and school leaders not able to enforce face mask mandates, Pottawattamie County Public Health's Matt Wyant said this year will be an adjustment.

"It makes it tough, in any situation, to have key tools taken away from you," Wyant said.

Dr. Eric Knost, the superintendent for Lewis Central Community Schools, shared the measures the district is taking.

"We will highly recommend the utilization of masks, especially for those who are not vaccinated. We'll continue to try efforts of social distancing," Knost said.

Steven Barber, with Atlantic Community School District, said he's taking a different approach.

"We will not social distance at this particular time, we will have rapid testing for our staff, they are still quarantined based on the guidelines the CDC have out for quarantine if you are positive," Barber said.

Barber said Atlantic Schools will maintain a strong cleaning regimen.

"We fog our classrooms two times a week, we also disinfect multiple times a day, so we are going to continue to do those types of things as we move forward," Barber said.

Wyant is bracing himself for a lot of uncertainty — especially when administrators won't have access to all the tools they'll need for a safe environment.

"You could be looking at children who won't be able to see their grandparents for a little while, the fear might be boiling back up on transmission of this virus, we are seeing breakthrough cases," Wyant said.

But Wyant is placing trust in people like Knost, who is staying optimistic.

"The good news regarding last year is we really thought we would all open up school and it would be a matter of a couple of weeks and things would spread so fast...and they didn't and that's good news," Knost said.

The CDC recommends schools maintain at least three feet of distance and universal masking.

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