Several new education laws taking effect this year were discussed at Wednesday’s IVCCD Board of Directors meeting.
The first was a law requiring First Amendment training for students and staff.
“It is very specific content about the First Amendment, so it’ll be very straightforward and good reminders for people,” Chancellor Kristie Fisher said. “It’s a very important part of American democracy is freedom of speech and expression.”
The district will also implement policy that calls to the importance of freedom of speech, and also implement a grievance policy should someone feel like his or her First Amendment rights were infringed upon.
“I really have no concerns about that, I think we can easily comply with it,” Fisher said. “In a few cases where we had somebody who kind of wanted to step on somebody else’s ability to say something, simple conversations made them realize, ‘Oh yeah, I guess I shouldn’t tell you what kind of hat to wear if I don’t want you to tell me what kind of t-shirt I’m gonna wear.’ That’s just kind of how Iowa Valley operates.”
Another law Fisher discussed was the ban on critical race theory and certain divisive concepts from diversity training and instruction. Fisher does not foresee the law having an impact on IVCCD.
“We don’t do any mandatory racism or diversity inclusion training, and when we looked at it, we believe we’re going to be able to continue doing the work we do,” Fisher said. “We’ll continue to watch to see if anything changes over time.”
Fisher also spoke about the district’s mitigation efforts going into the upcoming academic year beginning Aug. 30.
“Masks — that’s a question everyone is asking,” she said.
House File 847 signed into law in May by Gov. Kim Reynolds forbids schools, counties and cities from implementing mask mandates.
Fisher said she and other community college presidents have discussed the new law extensively.
“We each at this point are really trying very hard to figure out how we manage this next year in COVID, in a way that’s not about mandates, but is about setting some clear expectations working to help people kind of find their own way,” Fisher said. “This is not going to necessarily be easy.”
She said the district will update their COVID-19 information posters in the building to say masks are strongly recommended as opposed to optional.
“It doesn’t change anything other than the emphasis we’re putting on it,” Fisher said.
She also mentioned the district reserves the right to require masks at certain events or areas. One example was if someone rents a room on campus, the renter of the room can decide to require or not require masks for the event. Another example she gave is House File 847.
IVCCD will recommend the COVID-19 vaccination, but will not require it. The district will allow students and employees to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status, as it will change the protocol of what happens when someone comes into close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19.
A vaccinated student or employee who comes into contact with someone positive for COVID-19 will be strongly recommended to wear a mask for 14 days while indoors on campus, but wearing a mask will be required for non-vaccinated individuals who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19.
Fisher said IVCCD will work closely with local departments of health to provide vaccination clinics for students and employees, while also looking into possible incentives for vaccinations.
Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.