Judge Robert Pratt extended his temporary injunction barring the state of Iowa from enforcing Iowa law banning schools from establishing mask mandates on Monday. Pratt’s extension says the temporary restraining order will remain in full force until Oct. 11 when the Court will enter an order on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.
The ACLU filed a motion to ensure the temporary injunction would be in place long enough for the court to rule on the pending motion for a preliminary injunction, according to Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU legal director.
Prior to Monday’s ruling, the ACLU of Iowa said their position was the order hasn’t expired and there was no specific date for it to expire.
Since the court’s injunction, at least 24 school districts have implemented some form of a mask mandate, Monday’s ruling states. That includes eight of the 10 defendant schools in the lawsuit.
“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,” the ruling states.
Pratt wrote that courts have authority to extend a temporary injunction for “good cause.”
Defendants Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Dept. of Education Director Ann Lebo agreed with the plantiffs that the court may grant an extension if the court finds good cause.
“However, defendants Reynolds and Lebo disagree with plantiffs that good cause exists to justify an extension of the TRO in this case,” Pratt wrote.
Pratt wrote that enforcement of Iowa Code section 280.13 continues to pose a threat of “irreparable harm to the children’s health and rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
“Since entry of the TRO, COVID-19 rates among school-aged children have increased,” Pratt wrote. “Restoring the school districts’ discretionary powers to implement a universal mask mandate is indicative of the need for continued injunctive relief to redress plantiffs’ harms.”
Pratt decided the court holds there is good cause for extending the temporary injunction an additional 14 days based on procedural posture of the case.
“Given the important interests at stake, the court finds good cause to extend the TRO to fully consider the evidence submitted by the parties, their briefs and the numerous supplemental documents that have recently been filed.”
In addition, Pratt waived any requirement for plantiffs to post a bond for extending the TRO.