WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — One day after Gov. Ron DeSantis' office announced that Florida school superintendents who implement mask mandates could face consequences as serious as risking their salary, the White House reports there are funds to protect school officials from the ramifications.
During Tuesday's White House press briefing, reporters asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki if the White House had a response to DeSantis' comments on school superintendents who have created mask mandates for students.
Psaki stated that the United States government is following Florida schools' decisions to implement masks and is supportive of districts and schools who are following science and doing the right thing to save lives.
"What is publicly available is that the American Rescue Plan funds that were distributed to Florida to provide assistance to schools have not yet been distributed from the state level so the question is, why not?" Psaki said. "And those can be used to cover expenses that come up in this time. They're federal funds and they're under federal discretion. They just need to be distributed to these schools. We're looking into what's possible."
In addition, Psaki called out the governor directly as the U.S. responds to the rise in COVID-19 patients, specifically the increase of children testing positive for the coronavirus in Florida.
"If you are not interested in following the public health guidelines to protect the lives of people in your state, to give parents some comfort as they're sending their kids to schools, then get out of the way and let public officials, let local officials do their job to keep students safe."
Schools across Florida have went around DeSantis' executive order to keep masks out of schools by creating a mask mandate that allows students to wear face coverings indoors unless a parent opts their child out.
Hillsborough County Schools leaders changed the district’s mask policy after COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spiked in the state. The mask mandate will be in place from Aug. 10. through at least Sept. 3, the school system said.
Other schools systems are also strongly encouraging masks or recommending masks be work by students and staff indoors throughout the school day.
Gov. DeSantis is adamant that the ultimate choice is left up to parents on if their child should or should not wear a mask in school.