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Judge issues preliminary injunction allowing Iowa school districts to continue requiring masks

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Mask ruling

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction of a state law banning mask mandates in Iowa schools.

Judge Robert Pratt granted the preliminary injunction just days before the extension of his temporary order allowing school districts to issue mask mandates was set to expire on Monday.

Districts will now be allowed to require masks until the federal lawsuit challenging the law can be heard.

Lawyers for Governor Kim Reynolds and Department of Education Director Ann Lebo immediately filed notice of an appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which could reverse Pratt's order or keep it in place.

“We will never stop fighting for the rights of parents to decide what is best for their children and to uphold state laws enacted by our elected legislators," Reynolds said in a statement. "We will defend the rights and liberties afforded to all American citizens protected by our constitution.” 

In early September, a group of parents of disabled students filed the lawsuit seeking to strike down the law, arguing it endangers their health and denies equal access to education.

Pratt had issued a temporary restraining order on September 13, and then extended it an additional two weeks on September 27.

Several districts across the state implemented mask mandates following the order. 

Included were Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District had said that if the temporary ruling was overturned or canceled, the district would follow the law and remove its mandate. The district also outlined the factors that would influence when it would remove its mandate.

Waterloo and Cedar Falls districts implemented one week mask mandates for elementary schools before deciding to only mandate masks at individual elementary schoolif COVID-19 cases rise above a certain level.

Other smaller districts such as Clear Creek Amana, Benton Community, and Solon had decided that they would wait to discuss a mask mandate until there was more clarity on whether the order would be long-term or not. 

The Dubuque Community School District is set to discuss a mask mandate on Monday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.