ACLU calls on eight school districts to reinstate mask mandates

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa says eight Iowa school districts, including Linn Mar, may be in violation of federal law if they don’t reinstate mask
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 12:06 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2022 at 3:15 PM CST
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa says eight Iowa school districts, including Linn Mar, may be in violation of federal law if they don’t reinstate mask mandates.

The eight schools are among 10 involved in a lawsuit over the state’s law banning mask mandates in schools. The ACLU says without mask mandates in place, the school districts may be in violation of the Rehabilitation Act, according to a federal court ruling from last month.

“Based on the legal force of the Eighth Circuit’s opinion, we are asking these eight schools to restore their mask mandates immediately because they are still necessary for our clients’ children to go to school safely during this time,” said Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU of Iowa legal director. “Failing to require masking when it is necessary as a reasonable accommodation forces our clients to choose between their children’s health and their education.”

A group of parents of children with disabilities and two other organizations sued the state in September 2021 to block enforcement of Iowa’s law banning mask mandates.

The federal court ruling in this case from last month, prioritizes federal disability laws protecting vulnerable students against COVID-19, like students with asthma. After the ruling, some districts did away with their mask mandates.

The following schools received a letter from the plaintiff’s attorneys notifying them they are in violation of the Jan. 25 ruling:

  • Ankeny Community School District
  • Council Bluffs Community School District
  • Davenport Community School District
  • Decorah Community School District
  • Denver Community School District
  • Johnston Community School District
  • Linn-Mar Community School District
  • Waterloo Community School District

The other two school districts involved in the lawsuit, Des Moines Public Schools and Iowa City Public Schools, were not sent letters because they have mask mandates in place.

The ACLU says if these eight schools do not respond within a week, they risk further litigation.

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