Teachers are writing their own obituaries in protest of Iowa’s plan not to mandate masks when it reopens schools this fall, despite nearly 50,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 865 deaths so far, Your Content has learned.
The odd journal trend kicked off by Sioux City art teacher Jeremy Dumkrieger, 43, who published his own obit that described his death from complications of COVID-19 on the Iowa Starting Line website on July 16.
He went on to encourage other teachers to follow suit, and send their obituaries to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to demand she declare a statewide school mask mandate ahead of the upcoming school year.
Monday, the state was reporting 878 COVID-19-related deaths, The Des Moines Registrar reports. There are 45,801 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.
Iowa schools will reopen in August and September, but Gov. Reynolds has not declared a mask mandate for returning students and teachers.
That is concerning to many teachers and parents — including the 16,000 who have joined Iowa Educators for a Safe Return to School, a group Dumkrieger founded with a colleague.
“The governor issued no guidance,” Dumkrieger told Good Morning America. “That means every district in Iowa will have completely different plans. Some will wear masks, some will not.”
In publishing it this month, he asked other teachers to do the same and sent their obituaries to the governor’s Chief of Staff Sara Craig and Deputy Chief of Staff Paige Thorson, as well as post on social media to spread the word.