While Republican Leaders Play Politics, President Biden Takes Critical Action to Tackle COVID-19

Poll after poll shows that the American people support masks in schools and vaccine mandates,  yet Republican leaders refuse to see past their political interests. While Governors Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, and Doug Doucey are threatening funding for schools that implement mask mandates to protect children and continue to play politics with people’s lives, President Biden is taking action to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us. 

New York Times: The Biden administration will use a federal civil rights office to deter states from banning masks in classrooms.

  • President Biden, escalating his fight with Republican governors who are blocking local school districts from requiring masks to protect against the coronavirus, said Wednesday that his Education Department would use its broad powers — including taking possible legal action — to deter states from barring universal masking in classrooms.
  • The nation’s most vulnerable students, namely students with disabilities, low-income students and students of color, have suffered the deepest setbacks since districts pivoted to remote learning in March 2020, and their disproportionate disengagement has long drawn concern from education leaders and civil rights watchdogs.
  • If state policies and actions rise to potential violations of students’ civil rights, the department could initiate its own investigations into districts and investigate complaints made by parents and advocates who argue that prohibiting mask mandates could deny students’ right to education by putting them in harm’s way in school.

Washington Post: The GOP is losing the argument on coronavirus mandates

  • On the central battleground — masks in schools — 69 percent of Americans support the mandate, per a new Axios/Ipsos poll. And when it comes to both vaccine mandates and the methods to fight mask mandates that some Republicans are floating, the verdict is also pretty strongly against the GOP.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced Tuesday that schools that require masks won’t be eligible for a $163 million school grant program providing $1,800 per student. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last week floated a similar idea — though his would have deprived school officials of their actual salaries — before backing off it.
  • Opposition to withholding funds over mask mandates might actually be more unifying than any other proposal involving mandates. The Axios-Ipsos poll this week showed that fully 77 percent of Americans opposed withholding funding from school districts or local governments that require masks, as DeSantis proposed and Ducey is now pursuing.