Iowa parents of disabled kids sue over mask ban

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP ) — Parents of disabled students have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to strike down Iowa’s law banning schools from requiring masks, arguing it endangers their health and denies equal access to education.

The lawsuit is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and disability rights organizations. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are climbing in Iowa to their highest levels since last winter.

Iowa is averaging about 1,200 confirmed cases per day in the last week, and roughly a quarter of those are among ages 17 and under. About 5% of Iowa patients hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 infections on Wednesday were age 17 or below.

Gov. Kim Reynolds defended the law at a news conference, saying it lets parents choose whether their students should wear masks. She says those who feel unsafe in classrooms can enroll in online-only programs.

Unlike last fall, schools are barred by law from offering a hybrid schedule or temporarily moving to online-only classes.

The U.S. Education Department announced earlier this week that it is investigating whether federal anti-discrimination laws are being violated in Iowa and four other states.