State court judge asked to temporarily block Iowa’s ban on school mask mandates

DES MOINES — Judges in state and federal court are being asked to temporarily block the state from enforcing its ban on mask mandates in schools.

Fran Parr of Council Bluffs, the mother of twin boys who are first graders, filed a lawsuit in state court last month, arguing schools have a duty to protect students from the coronavirus.

During a hearing in Polk County District Court Thursday, Parr’s attorney, Daniel McGinn, said it is unreasonable for state lawmakers to forbid local school boards from requiring masks. “It serves no educational, medical or scientific goal,” he told the judge. “It’s just enacted for political reasons to appeal to a certain segment of Iowa’s population who are unhappy about masks. They don’t like the inconvenience.”

Sam Langholz, an assistant Iowa attorney general, argued lawmakers have the authority to set a statewide policy on masks in schools.   “Ms. Parr and many other Iowans have strong feelings and opinions about the wisdom of this statute,” he said, “but that’s not a valid basis to enjoin a duly enacted statute of the State of Iowa.”

A federal judge in Des Moines will hear legal arguments today from a group of parents of children with disabilities who are challenging Iowa’s ban on mask mandates in schools.