Iowa school districts revisit enacting mask mandates after federal ruling leaving some parents relieved

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DES MOINES, Iowa – A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order earlier Monday, which blocks the enforcement of a state law banning mandatory mask requirements in schools.

The ruling comes as a relief for Fran Parr, a Council Bluffs mom who’s taken her own legal action against this state law. She argues no mask mandates makes in-person learning too dangerous for her kids.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt made the decision, citing the following data: “The current level of the Delta variant in Iowa has increased the infection rate and severity of infection…Some public schools in Iowa are experiencing COVID-19 infection rates at upwards of sixty percent that of last year’s total for the entire school year.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa represented the parents in the case, who claim the law puts their children at enhanced risk and violates CDC guidelines.

“At the end of the day, this case is really about ensuring that kids in Iowa have a fair and safe opportunity to go to school and truly about protecting kids from severe illness, hospitalization, and even death from COVID-19,” Rita Bettis Austen, legal director of the ACLU of Iowa, said.

Austen says the decision will allow school districts to begin the process of re-enacting mask mandates. Des Moines students will be required to mask up on Wednesday. Waukee is expected to consider the possibility at its next board meeting.

As other school districts work out its plans, Parr is hopeful the ruling helps with her own lawsuit.

“We’re going to see school boards do the right thing,” Parr said, “and we’re going to have a better chance of getting through this together.”

Just before the weekend, a Polk County judge denied an injunction request for Parr’s case. She has been in touch with her attorneys to see how today’s ruling will impact her case moving forward.

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