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U of Iowa Updates Mask and Vaccine Speech Guidelines

August 23, 2021

The University of Iowa has updated its guidance for faculty members on talking to students about wearing masks and getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The university provost’s office removed earlier guidance on the subject, which limited the conditions under which faculty members could discuss masking and vaccines in class, and which faculty and free speech advocates deemed a violation of academic freedom and free speech.

The new guidance, available in full here, says, in part, “You may also have discussions or make statements regarding mask usage as long as all sides have a voice in the conversation. This should not be the classroom focus.” Regarding vaccines, “Instructors should be especially mindful to avoid discussing a student’s vaccination status.” Professors may “not penalize or criticize students for not wearing face masks; provide tangible incentives, such as extra credit or a higher grade, to students who wear face masks; or direct students to sit in different areas of the classroom based on whether they are wearing face masks.”

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