Iowa Quad-Cities school districts are preparing for possible policy shifts in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling that, for now, blocks enforcement of the state's ban on face covering mandates in schools.
The suit’s plaintiffs contend the state law discriminates against students with disabilities that make them more susceptible to COVID-19, according to a news release from the ACLU. The law effectively excludes these students from public schools and denies them equal access to education in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
“This mandate happened right before the school board meeting,” Davenport Community School District Superintendent TJ Schneckloth said Monday night, referring to the federal court ruling. “And so, right now the Davenport Community School District is working just as fast as we can to get an answer for the community.”
The school board will have to make the final decision on the district’s response, Schneckloth said. The timeline for that decision will be dependent on the district collecting the information the board will need to make the decision.
“We are reviewing all of the information that’s coming at us and we’re going to be making the best informed decision that we can,” Schneckloth said.
The North Scott and Pleasant Valley community school districts were still determining Tuesday what their next steps would be, officials from those districts said.
“The only decision we’ve made is right now to stay the course with our masks optional,” Joe Stutting, North Scott's superintendent, said.
Stutting said the district was doing that to allow more time for the legal action revolving around the judge’s decision to take place and to give North Scott more time to consult with the Iowa Department of Education, its legal counsel and others while it decides what, if anything, to do.
“It would not be in the best interest of students to say one day ‘Wear masks,’ then say the next day not to wear masks,” Stutting said.
Stutting also asked people to practice civility while addressing the face-covering issue or any other topic.
“This is definitely a polarized subject and what makes it hard when it’s polarized is a lack of civility,” Stutting said.