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Iowa can enforce law preventing school mask ban, federal court rules

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Iowa can enforce law preventing school mask ban, federal court rules

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DES MOINES, Iowa — A federal appeals court on Tuesday allowed the state to enforce a law that prevents local schools from imposing mask mandates, but the court also allowed a group of parents of children with disabilities to sue a lawsuit seeking to strike down the law.

Two members of a three-judge panel from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Omaha ruled that a previous federal judge’s ruling that blocked the state’s ban on mask mandates was too much. large. They sided with parents and a disability rights group in concluding that their lawsuit can proceed in federal court.

The panel concluded that parents are likely to be successful because mask requirements are a reasonable modification and that schools’ failure to provide this accommodation likely violates federal rehabilitation law.

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The parents, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and disability rights organizations, filed a lawsuit in September 2021 against Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Department of Health Director. Iowa Education, Ann Lebo, who were seeking to repeal the law prohibiting schools from requiring masks.

Rejecting the earlier decision that stopped the application of the ban as too broad, the judges said only schools attended by students with disabilities can impose mask mandates. This allowed the mandate ban to be enforced in most districts.

“The issues presented by the plaintiffs involve a discrete group of students: those whose disabilities require accommodations in the form of mask requirements in order to be safely present at their schools,” the tribunal wrote. “To repair plaintiffs’ prejudice, an injunction is only necessary insofar as it applies to their schools and districts.”

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The trial involves children who are too young to be vaccinated and who have disabilities that make them vulnerable to potentially severe cases of COVID-19. Their parents argue that the law effectively excludes them from in-person learning in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Iowa can enforce law preventing school mask ban, federal court rules

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