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Ankeny, Johnston school boards vote to reinstate mask mandates starting Thursday

Both Ankeny and Johnston districts voted to reinstate mask mandates Tuesday night.

POLK COUNTY, IOWA, Iowa — Tuesday night, two big school boards in central Iowa voted to reinstate mask mandates as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb.

The Ankeny School Board voted 5-2 to reinstate the district's policy following hours of public comment. According to its proposed Return to Learn plan, the district's mask requirement will go into effect on Thursday. 

The policy will be applicable to everyone 2 years and older when they are inside district buildings regardless of vaccination status. However, masking will be "strongly encouraged" but not required during indoor events happening on Ankeny school property outside of the school day. 

Masking will not be required when outdoors on Ankeny Community School District property. 

During a half-hour board meeting, members of the Johnston Community School Board voted to establish a mask mandate for all students, staff, and teachers beginning this Thursday.

"We talked for three hours with legal, grilled the attorney, and I sometimes felt sorry for her," said Board President Justin Allen. "Nobody asked to be in this position to make this decision."

"But I think that we've shown that even when we disagree, you can do that without being disagreeable...this isn't the last time we'll face this tough decision," said Allen.

Not everyone agreed to bring back a mask policy. Three board members did not want to mandate masks for every student, citing several reasons: community spread wasn't happening in Johnston schools, the federal judge's ruling could be reversed, and many children might soon become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

Dozens of Iowa school boards have discussed bringing back a mask mandate since a federal judge temporarily suspended the enforcement of Iowa's new law banning such mandates in schools on Sept. 13.

Metro schools such as Des Moines, Urbandale, and West Des Moines have mask mandates in place. Waukee opted not to bring a mask mandate back.

Watch | West Des Moines schools will reinstate mask mandate, Waukee will not

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