Biden prepares to square off with Texas and Florida over mask mandates

Washington DC – It looks like local officials in Texas who are fighting back against Governor Greg Abbott's mask mandate ban just got a big supporter in President Biden.

US President Joe Biden (l.) and Texas Governor Greg Abbott are at odds over mask mandates in public schools.
US President Joe Biden (l.) and Texas Governor Greg Abbott are at odds over mask mandates in public schools.  © Collage: IMAGO / MediaPunch, IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Biden said on Wednesday that he would not "sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators from protecting our children," as reported by the Texas Tribune.

"I'm directing the Secretary of Education, an educator himself, to take additional steps to protect our children," he continued. "This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal action, if appropriate, against governors trying to block and intimidate local school officials."

Though he didn't name any governors by name, Texas and Florida have garnered national attention for banning local mask mandates. They also have some of the lowest vaccination and highest infection rates in the nation.

Many school districts in those states are defying the ban and requiring masks anyway, leaving many students and families confused about actual requirements.

In Texas, a series of state court battles with school districts is kicking off, with the Texas Supreme Court already temporarily upholding the mask mandate ban in two counties.

US Education Secretary Miguel A. Cardona expressed his support for the school districts requiring masks in a letter last week and said they had received federal aid for public schools. That money was intended for "contact tracing, implementing indoor masking policies, or other policies aligned with CDC guidance."

Indeed, of that $18 billion, $11 billion had already been released to the districts. Now, the US government is apparently monitoring whether the states are using those funds as per the stated requirements.

"If you aren’t going to fight Covid-19, at least get out of the way of everyone else who’s trying," Biden concluded.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / MediaPunch, IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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