Iowa has been at the forefront of preserving individual conscience protections when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccinations and in May joined a handful of states refusing to force face masks on their populations.
Now with the school year just around the corner and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's newest reversal on mask recommendations, one former educator and longtime teachers union leader is calling on school districts in the Hawkeye State to ignore the law and do what they want — or at least what he wants.
What's that now?
After the CDC indicated Tuesday that it was revising its mask recommendations to say that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors and to urge all people in K-12 schools — students, teachers, and staff alike — to wear masks, the Des Moines Register posted an op-ed from Bruce Lear, a former teacher and 27-year regional director for the Iowa State Education Association calling on school district leaders require vaccinations for teachers and students and to reinstitute mask mandates.
Never mind that Iowa banned business and government from requiring proof of COVID vaccination.
Who cares that the government ruled out mask mandates?
Lear certainly doesn't, and he made it clear in his piece titled, "Iowa schools should ignore state laws and require vaccines and face masks."
He began by blasting the vaccination passport proscription, saying, "all students enrolling in Iowa schools need to furnish a certificate of immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, rubella, and hepatitis B, unless a religious or medical exemption is provided" — so what's the big deal?
"School boards should require vaccination of the eligible anyway, on behalf of students and educators," he wrote.
"What will save kids are mandated vaccinations for tweens and older, and masks for their younger siblings not yet eligible for vaccination," Lear said.
Officials "should also have a mandatory-mask policy for unvaccinated students," as well as teachers, he added, noting that the state's current ban on vaccine passports and masks make this a sticky wicket.
But, he said, "It's time to test both laws."
More from Lear:
I understand vaccines were approved under emergency authorization. This is an emergency. If a school board insists on waiting for FDA to change the label, each board needs a policy in place mandating vaccinations when it does.
And what of educators who refuse to be vaccinated? I was proud to represent educators for 27 years. Across the bargaining table, I frequently heard, “That's a management right." Most of the time it was a lawyer justifying what he/she was demanding, but this is different. This is really about protecting the health of the whole education family.
The employer as a condition of employment can require COVID-19 vaccination just as it currently has a right to require TB testing.
If any school board is unwilling to require proof of vaccination, then "unvaccinated educators should also be required to wear masks," Lear demanded.