States that have bans on school masks are unlikely to lose federal funding, the education minister suggests – but investigations will be put on hold

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Top line

Biden’s government is expected to crack down on states banning school districts from masking requirements, but Education Minister Miguel Cardona suggested that withdrawing their federal funds on Sunday would be counterproductive as the federal government steps up its fight against school mask mandates banning, after Florida fined two counties for violating their order.

Important facts

The Ministry of Education is “ready to investigate” any allegations that the ban on the state mask mandate discriminated against students or blocked their access to education, Cardona said Meet the press On Sunday, after President Joe Biden and Cardona announced Wednesday, the Department of Education will use its civil rights arm to crack down on the ban on the state mask mandate.

When asked by host Chuck Todd whether the “endgame” of federal government action was a refusal of federal funding, Cardona said when it comes to withholding funds, “those who suffer are the students.”

Collecting school fees “doesn’t usually work,” Cardona said, and “if anything, it inflicts even more injuries on those students trying to get into the classroom.”

The Education Department’s civil rights bureau can impose a “range of sanctions” for violations, with revocation of federal funding being the most serious, the Associated Press notes, and the agency could also refer the issue to the Department of Justice for further legal action.

Governors and state lawmakers in at least eight states – Florida, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah – have banned school districts from requiring masking (Arkansas’ ban was lifted in court) and the Biden government has Letters sent to each of these states warning of possible consequences.

In particular, states could violate a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act that provides states with federal funding “to pass a plan for the safe return to face-to-face tuition,” Cardona said in a blog post earlier this week if they block districts from doing so from “voluntarily adopting science-based strategies” that prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

Crucial quote

“Let’s get politics out of the way and let education and health professionals make the decisions about how to keep students and staff safe,” Cardona said.

tangent

After the Florida Board of Education officially relocated on Friday to deduct the cost of school leadership salaries from state funding for two districts with masked mandates, Cardona reiterated Sunday that these schools and everyone else can replace their lost funds with federal funds, they have already been awarded for these districts. Cardona said he told the superintendents in these districts the White House:[has] their backs ”and stated that the state cannot block the districts from accessing these federal dollars.

Key background

The ban on compulsory school masks is becoming increasingly controversial, as the increase in the delta variant coincides with the start of the new school year. While school districts in most states that prohibit masking requirements have now broken federal bans, the battle over school funding has been most evident in Florida, as six counties have now voted to impose masking requirements, which the state believes their policies are violated. In addition to the two counties that Florida has already fined, the state has vowed to pursue the others who have followed in their footsteps. “Nobody is above the law, not even school board members, and those who break state law will face consequences,” said Christina Pushaw, spokeswoman for Florida governor Ron DeSantis Forbes in an email on Thursday. Outside Florida, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has announced that he will withhold federal funding for schools with masked mandates – even before Arizona’s ban officially goes into effect on September 29 – and schools in South Carolina could also face funding cuts for the imposition of Mandates are faced.

further reading

Follow President’s Call to Support the Safe and Sustainable Reopening of Schools (U.S. Department of Education)

States banning mask mandates could face civil rights investigations (Associated Press)

Tennessee Becomes Latest State To Bans School Mask Mandates – Here’s the Full List (Forbes)

Florida sanctioned schools for masking requirements – schools in these states could be penalized next (Forbes)

Florida plans to cut funding for 2 school districts that have mask requirements – unless lifted within 48 hours (Forbes)


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