Media Contact

Veronica Fowler, ACLU of Iowa Communications

Aaron Madrid Aksoz, ACLU National Communication

October 8, 2021

A federal district court today granted a preliminary injunction in our mask mandate lawsuit, blocking enforcement of Iowa's law prohibiting schools from requiring facemasks. 

Previously, the court had issued and then extended a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), which also blocked enforcement of this harmful law. A preliminary injunction will stay in place as the lawsuit progresses and until the court makes a final decision on the merits of the case.

The court recognized that COVID-19 rates in Iowa continue to pose a risk of severe illness or death to disabled or immunocompromised children represented in the lawsuit who are too young to qualify for the vaccine. The order continues to recognize that the law prohibiting masking requirements at school is likely to violate the civil rights of children with disabilities, including children with underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to severe illness or death as a result of COVID-19. 

With the law blocked, schools remain free to require masks in school. This is something we urge schools to do, in order to meet their obligations to all students as required by the ADA and Rehabilitation Act.

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Iowa Legal Director Rita Bettis Austen:

"With the continuation of this crucial injunction blocking HF847's masking prohibition, schools are able to require masking in order to meet the needs of kids in their district who have disabilities, including underlying conditions that make them vulnerable to serious illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19.  They should continue those masking requirements they've put in place, and if they haven't already, take steps now to adopt masking in school in order to comply with disability rights obligations."

The lawsuit is brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Iowa, Disability Rights Iowa, The Arc of the United States, and law firms Arnold & Porter and Duff Law Firm, P.L.C. on behalf of The Arc of Iowa and 11 parents of children with disabilities.