Des Moines Public Schools officials will reinstate the district’s mask mandate Wednesday following a ruling that places the state’s mandate ban on hold.
US District Court Judge Robert W. Pratt issued a temporary restraining order Monday that will, for the time being, allow Iowa school districts to mandate masks in classrooms throughout the Hawkeye State.
Effective Wednesday, students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks in Des Moines schools, the district announced.
“The court’s decision to set aside Iowa’s ban on school districts being able to protect children in our care is welcome news,” said Thomas Ahart, superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who signed a law in May that banned local entities and school districts from issuing their own mask mandates, announced an 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,” said Reynolds, a Republican.
After Reynolds signed the law, Des Moines Public Schools made face coverings optional in its buildings, but said it would continue to “strongly encourage masks while indoors” due to the “size of our district, limited space in our buildings and the number of students still unvaccinated.”
“Face coverings are still the best method available to protect the unvaccinated,” the district said in a statement at the time. “Masks will continue to be required on school buses in accordance with a federal order requiring masks on all public transportation.”
Iowa isn’t the only state facing a court battle over mask mandates.
In Florida, the 1st District Court last Friday reinstated a stay on mask mandates in schools, blocking local school requirements for now, court documents show.
Lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis filed the emergency appeal after a judge ruled earlier last week that the state must stop its enforcement of a mask ban.
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