The Education Department under President Joe Biden (top right) has launched civil rights investigations into five Republican-led states over their bans on face masks in schools (Pictures: Reuters/AP)
The US Department of Education has announced it has begun civil rights investigations into five states that prohibited schools from implementing mask mandates.
President Joe Biden’s Education Department informed the education chiefs of the Republican-led Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah on Monday that their stance may discriminate against students with health problems or disabilities.
The probe will look at whether the states, by not implementing coronavirus protection measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are prompting students not to go to school.
‘It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve,’ said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
‘The department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely.’
Face masks are one of the most best ways to stop the spread of Covid-19 and should be used in schools, according to the CDC.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg in letters to the five states said that they could be stopping schools from their legal obligation to provide education to all students.
‘National data also show that children with some underlying medical conditions, including those with certain disabilities, are at higher risk than other children for experiencing severe illness from Covid-19,’ Goldberg wrote.
‘At the same time, extensive evidence supports the universal use of masks over the nose and mouth to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.’
States including Florida, Texas, Arizona and Arkansas are not subject to the new investigation because they stopped banning face masks in schools due to legal challenges or a voluntary decision.
However, the states will be monitored by the Education Department and could face similar federal probes if they enforce bans on masks in schools.
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].