When asked about signing legislation that prevented schools from instituting mask mandates, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she was acting on the concerns of Iowa parents.
“We had kids being isolated because they couldn’t wear a mask,” Reynolds told WHO 13’s Dave Price in an interview that aired Sunday. “They were having reactions from the mask—it was affecting their health—and parents know the health of their children; I don’t. The superintendents don’t.”
Two Iowa mothers who were present during the May 20 signing were Emily Peterson and Kimberly Reicks, both of Ankeny. They have made similar, dubious claims about masks that Reynolds repeated in her answer.
The duo have become prominent figures in anti-vaccine circles—although Reicks told PolitiFact they identify as “ex-vaxxers”—and took credit for swaying Reynolds to sign the bill.
“Through our persistent efforts, we helped get a law passed banning mandatory masks in schools and public businesses in the state of Iowa,” Peterson wrote in a June Facebook post.
In that post, Peterson also claimed masks were harming children and a form of child abuse. Reicks brought a sign to the bill signing with a photo of her daughter on it, and she claimed the child had a staph infection caused by wearing a mask.
Among the many causes the Mayo Clinic lists on its website for causes of staph infections, mask-wearing isn’t one of them. USA Today also tackled the subject last September and one doctor described skin staph infections as “annoying, but not life threatening in the slightest.”
Reynolds told Price an overwhelming amount of people contacted her office to thank her for giving parents a choice by banning school mask requirements, something that caused a direct response from the Biden administration.
There also have been protests against the measure outside of the Iowa State Capitol building. A petition to overturn that measure has garnered nearly 12,000 signatures.
“My daughter is too young to be vaccinated, and I’m tired of this never-ending COVID hell,” wrote Tammy Armstrong of Des Moines.
While state law prohibits mask mandates for schools or municipalities—although Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague has tried to find a workaround—Reynolds told Price she is not preventing people who want to wear a mask from doing so.
“Iowans, moms, dads, if you want your child to wear a mask, you can,” she said. “I’m not saying ‘no,’ so if you think your child is better protected with a mask, by all means, send them to school with a mask.”
by Ty Rushing