Here’s how medical and religious exemptions for mask warrants work
Several school districts in central Iowa have adopted mask mandates. With them comes the possibility for parents to fill out exemption forms.
DES MOINES, Iowa – As many parents in central Iowa send their students back to class this week with face covers thanks to the newly established mask mandates, some families are pulling out of politics.
Families claiming medical or religious relief from their child wearing a mask should complete a form provided by the school district.
To Ames, it is a online form, asking for the student’s name, grade, and other personal information. At the bottom of the form, the person must check disability / medical or religion as the reason for the exemption.
“Disability and religion-related student mask requirement exemptions will be considered on an individual basis,” said Eric Smidt, spokesperson for the Ames Community School District.
The district works with each family individually to meet the needs of the student.
In the Johnston Community School District, parents or guardians simply complete a one-page form and return it to the district.
A similar form is provided by the Ankeny Community School District.
The three school districts do not request documentation for a religious exemption.
Medical documentation is not required, but district staff can request it.
Local 5 has asked the Iowa Department of Education if state experts provide advice for these face-covering exemption forms.
The Urbandale Community School District told Local 5 that it received 197 student exemption forms this school year. 194 were approved.
Local 5 also requested data for several school districts, including West Des Moines, Des Moines and Ames regarding the number of students exempt from the mask mandate.
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Medical and religious exemption forms are nothing new to parents in Iowa. Many are already filling them out to exempt their child from vaccinations.
The Polk County Health Department annually monitors medical and religious exemptions for vaccinations.
Below is a graph showing the medical exemption rate in Polk County public school districts from 2014 to 2020.
In the graph below, the rate of religious exemptions approved by Polk County school districts has increased over the past five years, according to health department data.
You can see the school vaccination report of each district here.
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