DES MOINES, Iowa – A federal judge on Monday ordered that the state of Iowa stop enforcement of the mask mandate ban passed into law in May. U.S. District Robert Pratt said that the mask mandate ban increased the risk of children with health conditions catching COVID-19.
Several parents of students with disabilities sued the state argued that their children did not have equal access to education since schools could not mandate masking.
Pratt said that he agrees with the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics for wearing masks in schools.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state would appeal.
“Today, a federal judge unilaterally overturned a state law, ignored the decision by our elected legislature and took away parents’ ability to decide what’s best for their child. We will appeal and exercise every legal option we have to uphold state law and defend the rights and liberties afforded to any American citizen protected by our constitution,” she said in a released statement.
Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, called Pratt a partisan who stripped freedom from parents.
“For Iowa House Republicans, our position has been clear: Give Iowans the freedom to make the best decision for themselves and their families. As your elected Legislature, we took necessary steps to return decision-maker power to parents. This partisan federal judge’s decision strips parents of those freedoms we fought so hard to protect. Iowa House Republicans support any and all legal options to reverse this decision and uphold this state law,” he said in a released statement.
Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, accused Republicans of politicizing the vaccine.
“The leaders of the Iowa Republican Party are politiczing the single most important tool of modern medicine in order to scare their own supporters and score political points. They fully embrace vaccine skepticism, which is prolonging the pandemic,” he said in a tweet.
Several school boards across the state are considering reinstating a mask mandate in their schools. Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart said the school district would reinstate their mask mandate.
“The court’s decision to set aside Iowa’s ban on school districts being able to protect children in our care is welcome news. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in Iowa, our families and staff have expressed their concerns about schools not being able to require minimal, effective mitigation steps, such as wearing a mask, in order to keep people healthy and safe. With today’s ruling, as Superintendent I will reinstate a mask mandate – as we had in place for most of last school year – for all students, staff and visitors to Des Moines Public Schools,” he said in a released statement.