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Iowa schools can keep their mask mandates in place after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against a state law which prohibited schools from requiring face covers.

Parents of children with disabilities sued the state in early September, arguing that the state’s prohibition on mask mandates was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt heard arguments in the case and issued a temporary injunction, effectively blocking the state law for two weeks.

Following that decision, over 20 Iowa school districts implemented mandatory mask policies. (Waverly-Shell Rock stayed with their current policy, see main story.)

Pratt extended the temporary injunction to last through Oct. 11, next Monday. Pratt’s decision on Friday to issue a preliminary injunction allows schools to keep mask mandates in place until the lawsuit concludes. Pratt notes in his decision that pediatric COVID-19 cases have “exploded since school started.”

“It is in the public’s interest to allow local public school districts to exercise their discretion to adopt universal masking policies in an effort to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the children in their schools,” Pratt wrote.

Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa, encouraged school districts that have not yet adopted a mask mandate to do so “in order to comply with disability rights obligations.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds appealed the injunction on Friday.

“We will never stop fighting for the rights of parents to decide what is best for their children and to uphold state laws enacted by our elected legislators,” Reynolds said in a statement.

Katie Akin is a reporter with Iowa Capital Dispatch who started her journalism career as an intern with PolitiFact. She then joined The Des Moines Register to assist with the Iowa Caucuses coverage in 2019 and left in 2020. This story originally appeared on the Iowa Capital Dispatch website on Oct. 8.

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