WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — On Tuesday a federal judge ruled that the state’s law barring school districts from requiring masks violated federal disability law.
Judge Robert Pratt ruled that Iowa school districts cannot be barred from implementing a mask mandate when the student making the request has a disability or health complications that leaves them vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
“But if, after considering section 280.31’s general ban on mask mandates, the school district concludes that requiring masks is a reasonable modification to protect the safety of the student making the accommodation request under federal disability law, then Defendants Reynolds and Lebo must permit the imposition of a mask mandate,” wrote Judge Pratt on Tuesday.
Lindsay LaGrange is a Des Moines Public School parent and her daughter had thyroid cancer at 8-years-old. Because of the cancer, LaGrange’s daughter is immunocompromised since she does not have a thyroid. LaGrange said that the ruling comes as a relief.
“I feel like this and this judge and this ruling is allowing them (parents) to have that voice and that voice to say, ‘Hey we need to be heard’,” said LaGrange. “I think this is an amazing ruling, but in the same regard, it’s definitely going to bring up a lot of back and forth.”
And it already has, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds filed an appeal on Wednesday to the judge’s ruling.
“As I’ve said all along, whether a child wears a mask to school is up to the parents, not the government. I will appeal this ruling so that Iowa families have the right to decide what’s best for their children.”Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds
The Attorney General’s office confirmed to WHO 13 that the appeal had been filed. The ACLU of Iowa released a statement after the judge handed down the ruling.
That’s important because it ensures that students in Iowa who have disabilities that make them highly vulnerable to severe health complications from COVID-19 may request that their school requires masking as one type of reasonable accommodation…”Rita Bettis Austen, Legal Director of the ACLU of Iowa
With the governor filing the appeal there will be more action on the mask mandate ban in courts. Meanwhile, LaGrange is happy that there is an opportunity for families with immunocompromised students to feel safe.
“I think that there’s going to be some pretty upset parents that will be like ‘I don’t want my kids to wear a mask’,” said LaGrange. “But again, those parents have this opportunity and this choice. It’s giving them this opportunity to say my kid is safe now, or for what I feel is safe.”