Mask Ban for Schools in Five States Prompts Federal Investigation

As schools start to open amid pandemic, several states namely Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah will reportedly undergo federal investigation due to mask bans in schools. 

Advocates say the schools’ ban on masking can jeopardize the health and safety especially of differently-abled children, especially those with comorbidities and are immunocompromised. 

Politics still play a big role in how states enforce vaccination and mask requirements, despite COVID-19 cases steadily rising with new variants mutating.

Parents of differently-abled children and those suffering similar medical conditions have expressed concern about this rampant politicking of health.

This sentiment is shared by Miguel Cardona, secretary of education, who says that politics should not be propelled to a point where the safety of children has to be at risk. 

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“The department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely and the rights of local educators to put in place policies that allow all students to return to the classroom full-time in-person safely this fall,” Cardona said in a statement. 

The states undergoing investigation had been firm in their stances as to why masks should not be allowed in schools, even calling the investigation “unlawful” since they claim states have jurisdiction over their policies. 

Previously, the Biden administration wielded its authority to enforce the civil rights law by saying universal indoor mask-wearing is a requirement to provide equal education and accommodation to students with disabilities and special medical conditions that would be more at risk due to COVID-19.

The safety and accessibility of students to resources is a clear requirement under federal law.

As hospitalizations of COVID patients continue to soar because of the heavily transmissible delta variant, health authorities urge institutions to adopt broad safety practices as the California investigations open.

According to a report published in May, one school teacher who was positive for COVID-19 risked her students to infection when she was reading to them without a mask.

The disease spread to nearly half of her classroom’s population, with the students closest to her getting the brunt of the infectious disease. 

As investigations on these five states continue, federal health departments plea to the public to adhere to the health and safety protocols advised by the World Health Organization– which includes wearing surgical grade masks and getting vaccinated as soon as possible. 

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