Iowa Cities, School Districts Mixed Over Compliance With COVID Rules


Days before a federal coronavirus vaccine mandate takes effect nationwide for employers of 100 or more workers, local governments in counties, cities and schools are scrambling to determine the best course of action .

Many are awaiting the final word from the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to hear arguments on whether federal requirements should go ahead on Friday.

The warrant, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in November, was originally scheduled to come into effect on Tuesday. The agency, however, announced in December that it would not issue citations to organizations or businesses that fail to comply with vaccine requirements by January 10 and testing rules until February 9.

Although a federal appeals court in December lifted an old ruling that blocked the mandate from taking effect, Republicans in the Iowa legislature are still considering fighting the demands. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said in a statement after the court ruling that she asked the United States Supreme Court to stop the warrant.

The Biden administration’s requirement covers around 84 million workers and requires employers to vaccinate all employees or require workers to wear face masks and submit to weekly COVID-19 tests.

The Supreme Court will hear the policy challenges on Friday.

In Iowa, groups that oppose vaccination mandates and that weren’t happy with the limited steps Iowa took in the fall are once again preparing to show up in full force on Capitol Hill when the session begins more. later this month – adding to the political pressure their movement has exerted on officials.

A few governments in the region have already decided on their course of action before the OSHA Jan. 10 deadline. The Nevada and Boone school districts promulgated warrants at school board meetings on Monday. The Story County Board of Supervisors voted to align county policy with the OSHA Temporary Emergency Standard and the Ankeny School Board voted to require vaccinations for all staff immediately upon their arrival. respective meetings Tuesday.

Other municipal governments and school districts, including the city of Des Moines, are still preparing to make a decision or awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Here’s how the city and central Iowa school districts are doing against federal requirements:


The city of Des Moines has not yet implemented a vaccination program or screening mandate. City officials say there is a draft policy that, based on any action taken by the Supreme Court, would require vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated city employees.

In the meantime, the city launched a vaccination reporting system on Thursday, requiring all city employees to report their vaccination status and upload their vaccination cards using newly released verification software. implemented. According to a city spokesperson, through summary medical records and on-site vaccination clinics, authorities estimate that around 76% of staff in the city of Des Moines are fully vaccinated.


The town of Ames informed employees last week that they should follow the federal mandate by declaring their immunization status.

Unvaccinated employees will be required to wear masks at work on Monday and begin weekly COVID-19 testing by February 9, according to the email to city staff.

The Ames School District has briefed staff on immunization and testing requirements before winter break, district spokesperson Eric Smidt said. He said the district has a process in place for employees to submit their immunization status, and district staff plan to present the policy to the school board in the near future.

The district has scheduled a council meeting for Monday, but the agenda has not been released. The administration has been distributing Test Iowa kits to staff since September and does not currently require vaccines for staff or students.


The Ankeny School District voted on Tuesday to immediately require all staff to be vaccinated or undergo weekly tests before federal regulations.

Following:Ahead of new OSHA rules, Ankeny school board implements COVID vaccine mandate for district staff

West of the Monks

Like Des Moines, West Des Moines plans to wait to make a decision on vaccine policy in order to comply with federal regulations until the Supreme Court has ruled on the matter.

City spokeswoman Lucinda Stephenson said about 83% of city employees are vaccinated and staff have created a draft policy that is still under review. All employees are currently required to wear masks in city buildings.


Spokeswoman Summer Evans said City of Waukee staff are developing a policy regarding COVID-19 vaccines and testing protocols this week, and that the policy will be presented to city council “in the near future.”

The city is, however, awaiting a Supreme Court ruling before taking action.

The school district has a policy on the Monday meeting agenda that would bring it into line with OSHA guidelines.


All employees in the town of Urbandale are required to submit a vaccination status declaration form and proof of vaccination to the town’s human resources department, spokesman Derek Zarn said on Wednesday.

Starting Sunday, all unvaccinated employees must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test weekly. However, the city has “decided not to impose COVID-19 vaccinations” and will instead apply weekly tests and mask warrants for unvaccinated workers, Zarn said.

The school district is “actively preparing” to comply with OSHA regulations, spokeswoman Dena Claire said. A vaccine policy proposal will be presented to the school board on Monday.


Johnston plans to comply with OSHA requirements and will allow weekly testing for unvaccinated city employees, city spokeswoman Janet Wilwerding said on Wednesday.

The school district, meanwhile, is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling.

Spokeswoman Lynn Meadows said there would be exemptions from testing and mask requirements for medical and religious reasons.


The city of Indianola does not have a vaccination mandate in place and also plans to wait for the Supreme Court ruling before acting in accordance with OSHA regulations.

Charlie Dissell, director of community and economic development, said the city did not want to make a decision and then had to change it based on court rulings. The only mandate the city has for employees is that they must provide a positive lab test if workers miss a day due to COVID. They must then provide proof of a negative test result before resuming work.

The school district plans to adopt a policy to bring it into compliance with OSHA regulations, Superintendent Art Sathoff said Wednesday.

Polk County

The Polk County Supervisory Board has implemented a policy since September requiring all employees in the county to get vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 every week in order to be able to work. Testing was due to start in all departments on September 30.

Following:Polk County administrator scolds sheriff – and threatens his budget – for failing to test employees for COVID

Dallas County

According to the Dallas County Board of Supervisors, there is no current policy for county employees regarding COVID-19 vaccines or testing protocols. HR Director Beth Deardorff said she would present a draft policy to the board at its Tuesday meeting for further discussion.

County history

The Story County Board of Supervisors voted on Monday to require employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or to provide a weekly negative test.

Following:County Supervisors Enact COVID Vaccine Mandate for County Staff in Accordance with New OSHA Standards

Sarah LeBlanc covers the western suburbs for the Register. Contact her at 515-284-8161 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @sarahkayleblanc


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