Biden pushing to support Florida schools amid DeSantis mask dispute
The White House indicated Tuesday it was looking to support schools that face financial consequences for defying Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) ban on mask mandates.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration was looking to support schools that “do the right thing” when it comes to masking, saying school leaders in Florida have shown “courage” and “boldness.”
“We are continuing to look for ways … for the U.S. government to support districts and schools as they try to follow the science, do the right thing and save lives,” Psaki told reporters. “I would note what is publicly available and knowable is that the American Rescues Plan funds that were distributed to Florida to provide assistance to schools have not yet been distributed from the state level.”
“They’re federal funds and … they’re under federal discretion, so they just need to be distributed to these schools. We’re looking into what’s possible,” Psaki added.
President Biden said during his own press conference that his administration was looking into the issue.
When asked how she would respond to DeSantis’s actions against mask mandates, Psaki reiterated Biden’s own remarks last week urging governors to “get out of the way” of public and local officials seeking to keep students safe.
The Hill has reached out to DeSantis’s office for comment.
Multiple school districts have come out against the governor’s ban on mask mandates, defying his order and risking financial retribution, including budget cuts and threats of schools officials being cut off from their salaries.
The superintendents of Leon and Alachua counties both said this week they would not be allowing parents to opt out of mask mandates for their children without a medical exemption. Alachua County superintendent Carlee Simon questioned the legality of how DeSantis could withhold her salary.
On Tuesday, the Broward County School Board voted 8-1 to keep its mask mandate.
“Wearing masks inside schools regardless of vaccine status is required to deal with the changing realities of virus transmission. It is a necessary precaution until children under 12 can receive a COVID-19 vaccination and more Americans 12 and older get vaccinated,” school board president Anna Fusco said in a statement.