A federal judge has ordered the state of Iowa to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prohibits school boards from ordering the wearing of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
DES MOINES, Iowa – A federal judge on Monday ordered the state of Iowa to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prohibits school boards from ordering the wearing of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Pratt said he has seen data on the effectiveness of masks for reducing the spread of the virus and agrees with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics on wearing masks in schools.
“Because the plaintiffs have shown that the ban on mask mandatory in schools pursuant to Iowa Code Section 280.31 significantly increases the risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 and that their various medical conditions cause serious illness or death.” , the plaintiff has demonstrated that irreparable damage exists,” he wrote.
Kim Reynolds and Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Labow not enforce a new law banning local school districts from using their discretion to mandate masks for students, staff, teachers and visitors, their order said. can do.
He issued a temporary stay order with immediate effect. It remains in effect until the court issues a preliminary injunction order.
Eleven Parents and The Arch of Iowa, a group that protects the civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, sued the state on Sept.
Reynolds said in a statement that the judge “unilaterally overturned a state law, ignored the decision of our elected legislature and took away a parent’s ability to decide what was best for their child.” What.”
She said the state would appeal and “exercise every legal option we have to uphold the law of the state and protect the rights and freedoms granted to any American citizen protected by our Constitution.”
Pratt pointed out that it has been nearly 40 years since the US Supreme Court has held that denying free public education to school children, regardless of citizenship status, is a violation of the US Constitution.
He added that parents “want Iowa school districts to have the opportunity to comply with federal law and ensure that every child has an education in the least restrictive and most integrated environment without endangering their life or safety.” be received.”
“Iowa’s mask mandate restrictions not only make it dangerous for disabled or immunocompromised children to attend school, but many pediatricians believe it is also dangerous for healthy siblings to attend school in person because They run the risk of passing the virus back to their disabled or immunocompromised siblings,” Pratt said.
He said the AAP has reported nearly 3,500 new COVID-19 cases among Iowa school-aged children since July and that some public schools in Iowa have reported COVID-19 infection rates above 60% of last year’s total for the entire school year. are experiencing.
Labo has said that any district that violates the law will be referred to the state education board and risk loss of funds.
Pratt also points out that the proposal by parents to halt enforcement of the law comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which announced its investigation into whether Iowa’s mask bans Americans. Violates Discrimination with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act. Against children with disabilities of school age.
The parents in the lawsuit claim a similar violation of federal law. They claim in-person learning is essential and point out that Labow commented in January 2021 that a return to in-person learning is necessary because “students engaged in distance learning are lagging behind academically.”
The parents of these children “thus lament the choice of either sending their children to school with the rest of the children their age without ordering masks or swallowing the lesser option that is not always available to them.” is – distance learning,” Pratt said.
They concluded that the law appears to conflict with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act “because it prohibits children with disabilities from participating and deprives them of the benefits of public school programs, services and activities to which they are entitled.”