Five states with Republican governors that banned school districts from requiring masks are facing civil rights investigations opened on Aug. 30 by the federal Education Department.
Letters were sent to education officials in Iowa, South Carolina, Utah, Oklahoma and Tennessee, alleging they may be preventing districts from meeting the needs of students with disabilities who are at heightened risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
Investigations were not opened in Florida, Texas, Arkansas or Arizona, because the agency said their policies are not being enforced as a result of court orders or other state actions.
Florida’s ban was put on hold by a state court on Aug. 27 after Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to deny state funding to schools implementing a mandate. However, the state says it has withheld an amount equal to the monthly pay of school board members in two counties with mask mandates.
Meanwhile, Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, said on Aug. 17 that his state would only distribute COVID-19 federal relief funds to school districts where students in schools are not required to wear masks. Arizona schools risk losing a total of $163 million in federal grant funding if they fail to comply with Ducey’s order.
NBCnews.com, Aug. 27
Washington Post, Aug. 30