Judge extends order halting Iowa schools mask mandate ban

Judge extends order halting Iowa schools mask mandate ban



DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge on Monday extended a restraining order for 14 days that prohibits Iowa officials from enforcing a law that bans school districts from enacting mask mandates.

The order issued by Judge Robert Pratt extends his initial order from Sept. 13 until Oct. 11 which means school districts may impose mask mandates and the state cannot stop them.

Pratt concluded that enforcement of the law continues to pose a threat to the health of children.

Documents filed in the case Monday claim that nearly a quarter of Iowa public school students are in districts that have experienced significant COVID-19 outbreaks this year.

The information indicates 11 school districts, including Waterloo, Sioux City and Muscatine, reported more positive cases in the first month of the school year than during the entire previous year. The data was included in court documents made public Monday by lawyers for 11 parents and the disability rights group The Arc of Iowa who are suing the state.

The documents say 16 other school districts, including Marshalltown, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, have already recorded coronavirus cases equivalent to 50% of the tally for the last school year.

The 27 school districts represent 24.5% of all Iowa public school students.

The court document cited local and state data and school information collected by Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, an online service that compiles data from government sources including school districts.

The documents said Van Buren County school district officials reported an average of six positive cases per day, a 128% increase from the average two weeks ago. For the week of Sept. 13, the district reported that 18% of its students were absent.

West Burlington School District’s school nurse reported the district had...

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