DES MOINES, Iowa — Most school districts are back in the books after winter break. As the classrooms fill up, medical experts are also expecting positive COVID-19 tests to spike across the country after family holiday gatherings, and Iowa is no exception. As of Monday, Iowa’s 14-day state positivity rate is now 13.5%.
As COVID-19 cases surge in Iowa, local school districts are still content with the mask policies they had in place before the holidays, but some sweeping changes could come soon for everyone.
Des Moines Public Schools is the largest district in the state and is already among the strictest when it comes to COVID-19 measures with its universal mask mandate.
Amanda Lewis, the district’s communication officer, said in a statement, “We are just beginning to receive data on infections over the holidays. Universal masking remains in place at DMPS for everyone’s safety. The board meets tomorrow (Tuesday) night and there is nothing on the agenda to indicate a change is being considered.”
The Johnston Community School District recently removed its mask mandate at a school board meeting on Nov. 30. As of Monday, the district has no plans of re-evaluating that decision, but it is watching the U.S. Supreme Court closely. On Jan. 7, the high court is expected to hear arguments related to President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate for employers with more than 100 staffers.
Lynn Meadows, Johnston’s director of communications, provided a statement saying, “Depending on the Supreme Court’s decision, the Johnston board of education is prepared to discuss and potentially take emergency action on this issue as soon as its regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 10.”
The Ankeny Community School District removed its mask mandate on Dec. 7. A school board vote on mandating vaccinations for all employees is currently scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting. Any staffers unvaccinated would need to provide weekly negative tests. Students would not be subject to testing.