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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Des Moines metro schools are relying on guidance from their boards for how they should move forward after Iowa's law banning mask mandates in schools was blocked by a federal judge.

Driving the news: The judge's temporary restraining order issued Monday means schools can decide for themselves once again if they want to require students and staff to wear masks.

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds condemned the decision, saying it ignores parental choice.

The big picture: Masks are a highly politicized issue and school boards are at the center of it again — making the upcoming Nov. 2 election a tense affair.

  • And a sign of the times: Some school boards are only meeting virtually or they're holding discussions in closed sessions.

Here's where Des Moines metro districts stand on masks:

Ankeny: The school board listened to the school's legal council Tuesday night, but didn't hold public comment or a vote.

Des Moines: School board members affirmed Superintendent Tom Ahart's decision to require masks, starting today.

Johnston: School officials are recommending everyone, including vaccinated individuals, wear masks inside, per CDC guidelines.

Urbandale: Officials are recommending requiring masks indoors, except for medical exemptions. The board is holding a special meeting on mask usage tonight at 6:30pm.

  • Doors open for the public at 6pm at the Urbandale High School Performing Arts Center. A livestream is available here.

Waukee: The school board has not scheduled a special meeting yet.

West Des Moines: The school board will hold a special meeting via Zoom on Thursday. Details about the agenda and the time are TBD.

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Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The COVID booster vaccine discussion is far from over — Cuba becomes first country to begin mass vaccination of children.
  2. Health: Chicago has highest COVID-19 case rates in city worker neighborhoods — International Mission Board to require COVID vaccine for missionaries.
  3. Politics: Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers — Footage shows new details after NYC restaurant incident over proof of vaccination.
  4. Education: More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines — Most Kentucky school boards vote in favor of mask mandates —Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
17 mins ago - Health

U.S. COVID death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities

White flags are seen on the National Mall on Sept. 18, honoring Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 epidemic. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The recorded number COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has now surpassed the known number of fatalities from the 1918 flu pandemic.

The big picture: The U.S. has now marked more than 676,000 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 1918 pandemic killed about about 675,000 people.

45 mins ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.