We have completed the ninth week and are a just over the halfway point for the session this year. This week, I wanted to touch on some topics and events that we covered this week, as well as giving a COVID-19 vaccine update.
This week I was able to run House File 771, a bill that would require schools to carry albuterol inhalers to rescue children that may be having their first attack. With the combination of big cities and rural areas in our state, response time of critical medical services can play a factor in these situations. This bill makes it so that when seconds count, schools can respond and possibly save a life in the event of a severe asthma attack.
On Tuesday, representatives from the Ames Community School District testified at the Government Oversight hearing concerning the district’s “Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action” curriculum. The original hearing was scheduled for the second week of February, but was postponed due to the Ames School Board canceling the original hearing.
Prior to this week’s hearing, legislators received numerous emails and phone calls from parents, teachers, and students that were concerned about the maturity of some of the information presented during the week. One topic to note was a controversial vocabulary list distributed to fourth graders that depicted words not appropriate for publication.
During the hearing, it became increasingly clear that school officials were careless in the approach to this curriculum and failed to vet the information prior to uploading the link or documents to the school website. One thing that was clear following the hearing was that the Ames School District may have potentially violated civil rights law during that particular week with some of the issues that were brought up.
I want to be clear: The role of our public schools is not to indoctrinate our students into certain political ideologies. It is simply to educate our students.
This week, “U.S. News and World Report” released a rankings report stating that Iowa is ranked #1 in opportunity across the United States. This ranking was largely in part to the performance in two of the opportunity subcategories — affordability (at No. 4) and economic opportunity (at No. 12). The state’s housing affordability is No. 1 in the country, and the state has the third-lowest level of food insecurity, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Iowa is continuing to vaccinate at a record rate and last week Governor Reynolds announced another expansion of eligible populations to receive the vaccine.
The one-dose Johnson and Johnson shot has now been approved for use in Iowa and the United States. The addition of this vaccine to the state supply will increase doses by about 25,600 per week, speeding up the process to get Iowa fully vaccinated.
Currently those in Tiers 1A, 1B, Iowans age 65 and up, essential workers (such as food processing, ag production, distribution, or manufacturing), and Iowans aged 16-64 with pre-existing conditions are all eligible for the vaccine. Iowa is also partnering with 211 to provide a dedicated team of vaccine navigators to schedule appointments for Iowans 65 and older.
As of Thursday morning, Iowa has already administered 963,787 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 328,332 series have been completed so far.