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Iowa schools discuss next steps after federal judge lifts school mask ban

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IOWA, (FOX 47) — Iowa public schools districts across the state are analyzing mask policies after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on the school mask ban.

“Defendants Governor Reynolds, Director Lebo, and the school districts are ENJOINED from enforcing Iowa Code section 280.31 banning local public school districts from utilizing their discretion to mandate masks for students, staff, teachers, and visitors.”

Court document

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include multiple Iowa public schools parents, some who have children with disabilities. The defendants include Gov. Kim Reynolds and Ann Lebo, the Iowa Department of Education Director.

 “In their TRO Motion, Plaintiffs seek to immediately enjoin Defendants from enforcing Iowa’s mask mandate ban that prohibits Iowa school districts from adopting, implementing, and enforcing a universal mask mandate. Plaintiffs want Iowa school districts to have the opportunity to comply with federal law and ensure that each child receives an education in the least-restrictive and the most-integrated environment—without jeopardizing their lives or safety.”

Court document

“People should never lose sight of the fact that you have an option to wear a mask, so it’s not that you don’t…it’s that the parents will decide what’s in the best interest of their children moving forward,” Reynolds said.

School districts like Des Moines and Council Bluffs have reissued a school mask requirement. Some northern Iowa districts are waiting to make a big decision.

 “We would still encourage any students or staff that want to wear masks to certainly do that, but we’re not going to mandate it right now and just wait to see how this all plays out for the moment,” Mike Kruger, West Fork Community School District Superintendent, said.

“As in the past with any decisions that have come, we’ve always taken our time to gather information and wait until we get guidance from the Iowa Department of Ed and other entities,” Forest City/ Central Springs Superintendent Darwin Lehmann said.

“Moving forward we’re kind of waiting to see how that lawsuit progresses and if there are any immediate challenges to this or not,” Allamakee Community School District Superintendent Jay Mathis said.

Mason City and Decorah schools have not made a decision either.

Gov. Reynolds issued the school mask mandate ban last spring.

At the end of August, the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Division began an investigation into Iowa and four other states for limiting mask requirements in schools.

The superintendents are keeping in mind that Gov. Reynolds will appeal the court decision, and the school mask ban could once again become reinstated.

KaMaria Braye

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