Biden Directs Department of Education to Take Action Against Governors Blocking School Mask Mandates

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Updating the nation on the White House response to COVID on Wednesday, President Biden said he has directed Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to exercise full oversight authority and explore legal action against governors who attempt to prohibit school mask mandates by executive orders.

“Some politicians are trying to turn public safety measures into political disputes for their own political gain,” Biden said, referencing Tennessee and other Republican states, which he alleged have used “intimidation and threats” against school boards.

The president said he called a number of superintendents in Florida in solidarity, praising their mask rules for K-12 students in defiance of Governor Ron DeSantis’s ban. Biden said those schools’ were “follow[ing] the science” and putting “students first.”

“I will stand with those who are trying to do the right thing,” he said.

Biden echoed the earlier comments of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, affirming that funds from the American Rescue Plan can be used to reimburse the salaries of educators in school districts requiring masks in violation of governors’ orders.

Additionally, Biden announced a vaccine mandate for nursing home staff who service Medicaid patients, citing the low rates of inoculation at assisted living facilities. He said he will use “the power of the federal government as a payer of healthcare costs to reduce those risks for our most vulnerable seniors.”

Applauding the private companies that preemptively required their employees to receive the shot, such as McDonalds, Biden said that “employers have more power to end this pandemic than ever before.”

He warned that the delta variant, which he said is twice as transmissible as the alpha variant, accounts for the bulk of new cases in the United States. While over 90 percent of seniors have had at least one shot, among other promising statistics, he stressed that “we need to go faster.”

“We are still in a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said, adding that “It’s a tragedy. There are people who are dying who didn’t have to.”

Speaking to the already vaccinated population, Biden announced a booster shot program, pending approval from the FDA, to combat the vaccine’s declining effectiveness. Eight months from receiving a second dose, the president said it will be recommended to receive a booster, meaning anyone vaccinated on or before January 20th will become eligible starting in late September.

The booster will promote immune response and is the “best way to protect ourselves from new variants that could arise,” he asserted.

Biden also addressed the complaints of world leaders who have criticized the administration for encouraging and distributing a third shot while some countries struggle to supply and administer the original two doses.

“We can take care of America and help the world at the same time,” he insisted.

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