DES MOINES — A western Iowa mother of twin boys is suing the state over its law banning schools from ordering face masks to be worn as a way to protect students against COVID-19.

Frances Parr, of Council Bluffs, sued the state, Gov. Kim Reynolds and several state officials Monday in Polk County District Court. The lawsuit seeks an order requiring the state to issue a universal mask mandate for all students and school personnel until a voluntary plan can be implemented that segregates mask-wearing students and staff from those who opt not to wear masks.

Parr’s children were set to start first grade in the Council Bluffs Community School District this fall, but she is now teaching them at home over fears for their safety.

Iowa is among nine states that have banned schools from implementing universal mask mandates. Last week, President Joe Biden ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against Iowa and other states that have blocked school mask mandates.

Iowa's law has stripped local governments and schools of the ability to decide whether masks are needed and is “a gross overreach,” Parr said.

Reynold's spokesman Pat Garrett said in a written statement that Iowa schools “have been open safely and responsibly since August of last year" and reiterated that Reynolds “supports parental choice over mandates.”