By Itoro Umontuen | on August 30, 2021
By Collin Binkley | The Associated Press
The Education Department announced Monday that it’s investigating 5 Republican-led states that person banned disguise requirements successful schools, saying the policies could magnitude to favoritism against students with disabilities oregon wellness conditions.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights sent letters to acquisition chiefs successful Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Those states person barred schools from requiring masks among each students and staff, a determination that the section says could forestall immoderate students from safely attending school.
“It’s simply unacceptable that authorities leaders are putting authorities implicit the wellness and acquisition of the students they took an oath to serve,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said successful a statement. “The section volition combat to support each student’s close to entree in-person learning safely.”
It marks a crisp escalation successful the Biden administration’s conflict with Republican states that accidental wearing masks should beryllium a idiosyncratic choice. President Joe Biden past week asked Cardona to research imaginable ineligible action, prompting the section to analyse whether the policies could magnitude to civilian rights violations.
The authorities policies struggle with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends cosmopolitan disguise wearing for students and teachers successful the classroom.
If the investigations find that the authorities disguise bans person discriminated against students with disabilities, it could pb to sanctions including a nonaccomplishment of national acquisition funding.
The section said it has not opened investigations successful different states wherever disguise bans person been overturned by courts oregon are not being enforced, including successful Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona. But the bureau said it is “closely monitoring” those states and is prepared to instrumentality enactment if necessary.
The investigations purpose to find whether authorities disguise bans magnitude to a usurpation of students’ close to a free, nationalist education. The section is raising concerns that, successful areas with precocious COVID-19 transmissions, the bans could discriminate against students who are astatine heightened hazard for terrible illness.
The section is launching the investigations astatine its ain discretion and not successful effect to complaints from parents, but Cardona said families person raised concerns that disguise bans could enactment children with disabilities oregon wellness conditions astatine risk.