Biden calls out governors who oppose school mask mandates
President Biden on Wednesday called out Republican governors who have been preventing local schools from requiring masks, and said the administration was prepared to pay the salaries of teachers and officials who are punished for pushing back.
“They’re setting a dangerous tone,” Biden said of governors who block local mask mandates. “This isn’t about politics. It’s about keeping our children safe. It’s about taking on the virus together, united. I’ve made it clear that I’ll stand with those who are trying to do the right thing.”
During remarks outlining new details of the administration’s COVID-19 response and vaccination push, Biden said he is directing Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “use all of his oversight authorities, and legal action if appropriate, against governors who are trying to block local school officials and educators.”
Schools have emerged as the new battleground in the mask wars as millions of children return to classrooms across the country.
Some GOP governors, such as Ron DeSantis of Florida, Doug Ducey of Arizona, and Greg Abbott of Texas, have issued orders barring local school districts from requiring masks in the classroom.
“You know, we’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children,” Biden said.
If a governor wants to cut the pay of an educator for requiring masks in school, Biden said money from the American Rescue Plan can be used to pay that person’s salary.
Biden also spoke about the administration’s new recommendation for everyone to get booster shots, beginning later in September.
“These booster shots are free,” Biden said. “You’ll be able to get the booster shots at any one of approximately 80,000 vaccination locations nationwide. It will be easy. Just show your vaccination card, and you’ll get a booster.”
Biden also responded to critics, including the World Health Organization, that have said the U.S. shouldn’t start giving out boosters until more of the rest of the world has access to vaccines. Many people in low- and middle-income countries haven’t even gotten a first dose yet.
“We can take care of America and help the world at the same time,” Biden said.
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