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Newton School Board Seeking Legal Clarity After Iowa’s Mask Mandate Law Temporarily Suspended by a Federal Judge

The Newton School Board addressed the school mask mandate issue last (Monday) night. Monday a Federal Judge, Robert Pratt, issued a temporary injunction barring enforcement of the law that prevents school districts from requiring masks be worn. The injunction is in effect until a lawsuit against the law is decided. Judge Pratt cited a recent increase in Covid cases among Iowa children as the reason for his decision. Governor Kim Reynolds says the ruling takes away parents’ ability to decide whether their children wear masks at school and the state will appeal the federal court ruling. Newton Superintendent Tom Messinger told the school board, he talked with the district’s attorney Monday to get her opinion about the federal Judges decision.

Last week, a judge in state court declined to issue an order against the law banning school mask mandates. That ruling was in connection with a different lawsuit that was filed by a Council Bluffs woman who’s the mother of two first grade boys. Newton School Board member Donna Cook would like the district to go ahead and require masks be worn.

School Board President Cody Muhs responded to Cook’s statement.

Superintendent Messinger shared some attendance data with the school board.

According to Messinger, the District’s average daily attendance the first week of school was 95.7-percent. The second week the percentage fell to 92.1-percent. Last week, the third week of classes, the average daily attendance was 88.8-percent. Over the past 6 school years, the Newton School District’s lowest average daily attendance was last year’s 94.7-percent.