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Court documents: State highlights parents' mask claims in effort to end order

In documents made public Monday, the state cited testimonials from mothers of school-age children who make unproven assertions that masks can harm children.

DES MOINES, Iowa — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from Sept. 16, 2021

The lawyer representing Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in a federal lawsuit over mandatory mask use in schools has asked the judge to allow a temporary order that has allowed schools to implement mask mandates to expire next week. 

In documents made public Monday, the state cited testimonials from mothers of school-age children who make unproven assertions that masks can harm children.

The state claims the law signed back in May is a "neutral, nondiscriminatory State policy set in statute and thus doesn't violate federal disability law." 

One of the state's major arguments is that the lawsuit is "unlikely" to succeed on the plaintiff's claims because neither federal disability law nor the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 requires universal mask mandates in schools.

The state argues a universal mask mandate isn't a reasonable modification but did say other reasonable modifications exist.

RELATED: Federal judge's temporary order allows Iowa schools to mandate masks

Even though the Eight Circuit Court ruled that a universal mask mandate is a reasonable modification, the state argues the court has not decided "whether the failure to make reasonable modifications in a policy is itself discrimination even where the policy and its rationale cannot be shown to be discriminatory."

The state then argues that universal masking isn't a reasonable modification because it "imposes an undue administrative burden or a fundamental alteration in the nature of the State's education program is not reasonable." 

Another reason a universal mask mandate is unreasonable, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Department of Education Director Dr. Ann Lebo, is because it "requires infringing on the rights of third parties— other students, employees, and visitors." 

The state provided testimonials from three women who said their children have medical issues that make mask-wearing difficult for them.

RELATED: No sufficient data available to back up Iowa governor's claim that masks are harmful to children

That included an Ankeny mother who said her son has asthma, and when he wears a mask he “does not receive an adequate amount of clean oxygen and is constantly breathing in germs,” a claim not supported by science.

Another mother from Ankeny said her daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder (SDP), which makes it difficult for the child to wear a mask. When the child wears a mask, her brain "interprets her skin as being on fire or poked with sharp needles." 

A mother from Urbandale claimed in her declaration that her son isn't able to wear a mask because he has Autism. The declaration also says that others wearing face masks around him have made it difficult for him to advance his social skills and understand their facial expressions. 

The Urbandale mother also lists her other son in the declaration, claiming that he has "behavioral issues and sometimes struggles with attention." The declaration doesn't list any other reasoning for this child. 

Read the motion from Gov. Kim Reynolds and Dr. Ann Lebo below

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