The Biden administration this week offered federal financial assistance to Florida school districts defying Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates.
According to Politico, US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote to DeSantis and state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Friday, stating that defiant districts that lose state funding would be eligible for federal funds.
“Florida’s recent actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts students and staff at risk,” Cardona wrote in the letter. Cardona added that he was “deeply concerned” by DeSantis’ July 30 anti-mask mandate executive order.
Cardona said the districts followed the CDC’s advice, which earlier this month recommended that all students, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in K-12 schools.
“We are eager to partner with [the Florida Department of Education] on any efforts to further our shared goals of protecting the health and safety of students and educators,” he added. “If FLDOE does not wish to pursue such an approach, the Department will continue to work directly with the school districts and educators that serve Florida’s students.”
Christina Pushaw, a DeSantis spokeswoman, called out the Biden administration for giving more support to “superintendents and elected politicians, who don’t believe that parents have a right to choose what’s best for their children, than on Florida’s students, which is what these funds should be used for,” Politico reported.
DeSantis has said parents should decide whether their children wear masks in school.
Cardona sent a similar letter to Gov. Greg Abbott in Texas over his ban on mask mandates.