With the start of a new school year in the US, President Joe Biden warned governors who oppose student mask requirements on Wednesday that they could take legal action for intimidating educators who want to protect children from Covid-19.
In the latest political flashpoint over the coronavirus pandemic, Republican governors in Florida and Texas, two of the nation’s largest states, have rejected recommendations from health authorities to require students to wear masks when they return to the classroom.
Florida’s Board of Education raised eyebrows when it voted this week to impose penalties on two school districts that instituted mask mandates in defiance of Governor Ron DeSantis.
Biden did not mention DeSantis by name, but his comments in a speech at the White House seemed clearly aimed at the governor, who is believed to harbor presidential ambitions.
“Unfortunately…some politicians are trying to turn public safety measures — i.e. kids wearing masks at school — into political disputes for their own political gain,” Biden said. “They set a dangerous tone.”
In response, the president said he instructed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona “to take legal action if necessary against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators.”
“If you’re not going to fight Covid-19, at least get out of the way of everyone else trying.”
Biden also criticized protesters for interrupting school board meetings, picking out angry parents in Tennessee who he says threatened doctors and nurses who advocate masking children in schools.
“The intimidation and threats that we are seeing across the country are wrong. They are unacceptable,” Biden said.
The United States is facing a resurgence of Covid-19 infections as the Delta variant spreads.
In addition to fierce opposition to the masking of mandates in certain quarters, the country’s mass vaccination program has also encountered some resistance, especially in politically conservative regions of the South and Midwest.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)