Support Spreads for Petition Drive Condemning Iowa's Mask Mandate Ban

Aug 31, 2021

Credit change.org

A petition drive condemning Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and lawmakers for passing a law banning mask mandates is gaining traction. Siouxland Public Media talked to the organizer, who says the safety of students and families is at risk.

“It started out with us just wanting to make a statement.”

Cassie Thompson, a pre-med student at the University of South Dakota launched the petition on change.org as a member of the Siouxland COVID Safety Alliance.  

COVID Safety Advocate Cassie Thompson
Credit Cassie Thompson

“A lot of people are concerned.”

The grassroots effort attracted more than 12,000 signatures by the last day of August.

“Parents want a say in their children’s health.”

Thompson says while Governor Reynolds claims schools opened safely last year, they did due to mitigation strategies across the state, including masking.

But, medical experts say the Delta variant poses a greater threat.

“We know the Delta variant is more contagious and younger people are at risk.”

The petition was launched after the mask ban law passed in May, and saw a surge of support at the start of the new school year. Thompson says the plan is to present the petition to Governor Reynolds in the near future.

She urges people who are concerned to reach out to their local school boards, state lawmakers, and the governor's office.

“We hope with continued pressure, data, or science she will cave or change policy.”

When it comes to tracking COVID-19 cases, the Sioux City Community School District is no longer publishing weekly reports this school year. 

Full statement from Sioux City Community School District surrounding COVID-19 reporting:

At this time, the Sioux City Community School District will not be publishing weekly Covid-19 reports. Our numbers will be included in the weekly reports that Siouxland District Health releases. We will track numbers internally, however with the exception of positive rapid tests that are conducted in our schools, the rest of our data will be self-reported information from students' families and our staff. As with all self-reported data, there is a risk of error and inaccuracy. The most accurate numbers will be from Siouxland District Health which has access to all positive test results from Woodbury County. 

Statement from the Siouxland Covid Safety Alliance surrounding the federal investigation into anti-masking laws:

Siouxland Covid Safety Alliance is associated with a coalition of groups promoting Covid safety measures in schools across Iowa. This is a coalition of groups numbering approximately 50,000 members. A large concern shared across the state has been the callous disregard this law shows for students and staff that have disabilities or are immunocompromised. We are heartened by the investigation from the Federal government into this discrimination. Unfortunately, Governor Reynolds persists with the same rhetoric. She claims schools in Iowa opened safely last year. They did prove to be safe, due to mitigation strategies that were in place across the state, including masking. Now we face a much more transmissible variant that is affecting more children than ever with more cases and record hospitalizations, and we are unable to put into place proven, effective policies that we know made schools safe last year. Take the case recently shared by the CDC of a teacher who infected over half of her class merely by taking off her mask to read a story to the class. The school in question had mask rules in place, distancing, and good ventilation, but the teacher taking off her mask put her class at risk of illness. Delta is an entirely new challenge and we can’t give it an inch. This case is exactly why universal masking is crucial. This is not political. It’s about public health and safety in the face of the biggest public health crisis in 100 years. It’s about protecting our kids and protecting our community.

Submitted news release:

THOUSANDS OF IOWANS PUSH BACK ON GOVERNOR REYNOLDS’ CLAIMS ON SCHOOL MASKS

Des Moines- An Iowa Coalition of Groups that Support Pandemic Safety Measures, totaling nearly 50,000 parents, educators, and other professionals, is calling out the lie that most Iowans support the mask mandate ban, which Governor Reynolds recently touted on Fox News. According to a national Axios poll, 69% of Americans support universal mask requirements in schools and vaccinations to return to the workplace, and they oppose states' efforts to prevent schools from enacting common-sense mask requirements. An Iowa petition that has been circulating, now over 12,000 signatures strong, condemns this reckless act of legislation.

Pre-Med student Cassandra Thompson, who started the petition, says: “While we are all ready to be done with the pandemic, now is not the time to let our guard down. Schools were safe last year when mitigation strategies were put into place, including masking. Now, with a more transmissible variant that is infecting an increasing number of children, these strategies are more important than ever. Over forty-nine scientific studies support the use of masks as an important means of reducing transmission. This is now accepted science, something Governor Reynolds must know, despite claiming that there is ‘data on both sides.’”

Iowa Democratic Party Disability Caucus Chair Julie Russell-Steuart points out that Governor Reynolds has access to the data, and access to scientists and medical experts. “She has no excuse for ignoring scientific predictions of how Covid-19 will spread in our schools. There is hard evidence of outbreaks and schools closing from states that have started before Iowa. Plenty of experts can show her the data. There are unprotected children who cannot be vaccinated, have a disability, or are immunocompromised, and their civil right to a safe and appropriate education is being impacted.”

Nationally, 69% of Americans support mask mandates in schools, with 44% of Republicans and 92% of Democrats. 

Petition Link: https://www.change.org/p/kim-reynolds-let-iowa-legislators-know-we-won-t-stand-for-them-endangering-public-health

Iowa City Schools petition

https://www.change.org/p/iowa-city-community-school-district-board-open-letter-from-parents-requesting-iccsd-mask-mandate

Axios poll : https://www.axios.com/axios-ipsos-poll-mandates-masks-vaccinations-f0f105a7-3c2e-4953-aac9-f25516128b11.html

Siouxland Covid Safety Alliance is associated with a coalition of groups promoting Covid safety measures in schools across Iowa. This is a coalition of groups numbering approximately 50,000 members. A large concern shared across the state has been the callous disregard this law shows for students and staff that have disabilities or are immunocompromised. We are heartened by the investigation from the Federal government into this discrimination. Unfortunately, Governor Reynolds persists with the same rhetoric. She claims schools in Iowa opened safely last year. They did prove to be safe, due to mitigation strategies that were in place across the state, including masking. Now we face a much more transmissible variant that is affecting more children than ever with more cases and record hospitalizations, and we are unable to put into place proven, effective policies that we know made schools safe last year. Take the case recently shared by the CDC of a teacher who infected over half of her class merely by taking off her mask to read a story to the class. The school in question had mask rules in place, distancing, and good ventilation, but the teacher taking off her mask put her class at risk of illness. Delta is an entirely new challenge and we can’t give it an inch. This case is exactly why universal masking is crucial. This is not political. It’s about public health and safety in the face of the biggest public health crisis in 100 years. It’s about protecting our kids and protecting our community.