December 3, 2021

States with school face mask bans face federal civil rights inquiries

WASHINGTON — The Training Division introduced Monday that it is investigating 5 Republican-led states with common mask bans, saying the insurance policies might quantity to discrimination towards college students with disabilities or well being situations.

The division’s Workplace for Civil Rights despatched letters to schooling chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. These states have barred colleges from requiring masks amongst college students and workers, a transfer that the division says might forestall some college students from safely attending school.

“It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve,” Training Secretary Miguel Cardona stated in a press release. “The department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely.”

It marks a pointy escalation within the Biden administration’s battle with Republican states that say carrying masks must be a private selection. President Joe Biden final week requested Cardona to discover potential authorized motion, prompting the division to look at whether or not the insurance policies might quantity to civil rights violations.

The state insurance policies battle with steering from the from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, which recommends common mask carrying for college students and lecturers within the classroom.

If the investigations decide that the state mask bans have discriminated towards college students with disabilities, it might result in sanctions together with a lack of federal schooling funding.

The division stated it has not opened investigations in different states the place mask bans have been overturned by courts or usually are not being enforced, together with in Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona. However the company stated it’s “closely monitoring” these states and is ready to take motion if vital.