DES MOINES — A federal judge this week extended an 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 Sept. 13 order until Oct. 11, which means that 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.
At least 24 school districts have reinstated a mask mandate since Pratt issued the order, lawyers for the plaintiffs said in court documents.
Documents filed in the case Monday say almost a quarter of Iowa public school students are in districts that have experienced significant COVID-19 outbreaks this year.
The information indicates that 11 school districts, including Waterloo, Sioux City and Muscatine, reported more 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 disability rights group The Arc of Iowa and 11 parents 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.