The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.
More than 620,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 4.3 million people have died worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Just 59.1% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Education secretary says he stands with Florida superintendents defying governor
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told Florida superintendents in a new letter that he’ll stand with any school that defies Gov. Ron DeSantis by implementing a mask mandate.
He also spelled out how schools can use federal COVID-19 relief dollars, already appropriated by Congress, “to support any activity necessary to maintain operations,” including reimbursing pay of education officials withheld by the governor. DeSantis later admitted he couldn’t slash superintendents’ pay since it is a local matter, but implausibly called on superintendents to slash their own pay if they defied his ban on mask mandates.
“Several school districts in Florida have already moved to adopt universal masking policies despite the State’s prohibition, and I want you to know that the U.S. Department of Education stands with you,” he wrote. “Your decisions are vital to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction, and they are undoubtedly in the best interest of your students.”
He later added, “In these unprecedented and difficult times, the leadership and courage that you are showing will make a difference in the lives of the students whom you serve.”
Florida’s education commissioner told the leaders of three school districts this week that he’s investigating them for “non-compliance” after they defied state rules by refusing to let parents opt out of mask requirements for their children.
In letters sent to the leaders of the Alachua, Broward and Leon districts, and obtained by ABC News, the commissioner, Richard Corcoran, threatened to withhold money from their salaries and gave them deadlines to respond with a plan “to remedy this glaring non-compliance.”
“There is no room for error or leniency when it comes to ensuring compliance with policies that allow parents and guardians to make health and educational choices for their children,” Corcoran wrote.
Alachua and Broward Counties have shown no indication of budging despite Corcoran’s threat.
In a response to the commissioner, Carlee Simon and Leanetta McNealy, the Alachua superintendent and school board chair, wrote in a letter that the order to require opt-outs from masks was “an extremely inappropriate use of state authority.” They didn’t indicate whether they would change their policy to allow parents to opt out of masks.
Broward County Public Schools has directed its lawyers to challenge the ban on mask mandates, Rosalind Osgood, chair of the school board, said at a press conference Tuesday.
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