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Monday's Axios Des Moines stories

Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools

Governor Kim Reynolds at a Trump Rally last year. Photographer: Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on Monday blocking Iowa from enforcing a recent law that bars schools from requiring masks.

Why it matters: The move, effective immediately, allows school districts to enforce mask mandates as kids are returning to the classroom. The lawsuit represents the interest of students who are ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines or are at risk of severe complications from the virus.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 13, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

A wave of conservative candidates eye Iowa school boards

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A wave of conservative candidates are running in Iowa school board elections this November and they're energized by top-down cultural battles like race-related curriculum and mask requirements.

Why it matters: School board seats — typically uneventful and nonpartisan roles — are the coveted spots this fall as both parties try to ensure their ideologies are reflected in classrooms, especially in our COVID-19 era.

State of play: The boards hold a lot of influence this school year. Critical race theory is banned in classrooms, but the vague law leaves plenty of room for schools to create their own interpretations.

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds' ban on mask mandates in schools is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education — and that, combined with several lawsuits, may put masking rules back into board members' hands.
  • "I think last year exposed everybody to just how much power the school board has," said JC Ruddy, a conservative candidate running for the Southeast Polk School Board. "I don't think we ever realized that until our kids were ripped out of school and put online."