Iowa school districts will continue to be able to require masks for two more weeks after a federal judge on Monday extended a temporary restraining order blocking a law that banned mask mandates.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt blocked the law two weeks ago. While temporary restraining orders typically lasts 14 days, judges are able to extend them for good cause, which Pratt said exists in this case.
Since the law was blocked, the issue of mask mandates has roiled school districts around the state where parents and community members have spoken up in contentious school board meetings. Several districts have issued mandates, while others have declined to do so.
Lawyers for Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo had urged Pratt to let the restraining order expire, which would have allowed the law to take effect and again banned districts from putting mask mandates in place.
Pratt said that since he issued the restraining order at least 24 school districts in Iowa, including eight of the 10 school districts listed as defendants in the lawsuit, have issued mask mandates.
"Meanwhile, rising COVID-19 rates in Iowa continue to pose a risk of severe illness or death to plaintiffs' disabled or immunocompromised children who are too young to qualify for the vaccine," Pratt wrote.
The restraining order will remain in place until Oct. 11, Pratt wrote, at which time he will rule on the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. If Pratt grants a preliminary injunction, the law would be blocked for the duration of the lawsuit.