US schools defy mask ban in showdown against Republican governors – .

US schools defy mask ban in showdown against Republican governors – .

Elementary teachers try to persuade an anti-mask protester that all students should wear masks. during a protest outside a Broward County School Board meeting on August 10 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Amy Beth Bennett/The Associated Press

With the highly contagious Delta variant fueling an increase in coronavirus cases just as students return to class, major school districts in Arizona, Florida, Texas and beyond are increasingly defying Republican leaders who have banned school mask warrants in several states.

The confrontations took place at the White House and landed in courtrooms where judges have so far authorized school mask requirements in two states.

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Schools across the United States have a patchwork of different rules as they try to keep classrooms open during the coronavirus pandemic, but in several states, GOP leaders have banned districts from requiring all children wear masks.

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But with the rise in infections and hospitalizations and vaccinations beyond the reach of young children, districts in blue-prone urban areas are particularly rebelling against laws and demanding masks in schools – even if that means dealing with the consequences of governors and courts. The districts of Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Broward County, Florida are among those defying mask laws.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold the salaries of principals who enact mask requirements.

“At no time will I let my decision be influenced by a threat to my paycheck; a small price to pay given the seriousness of this problem and the potential impact on the health and well-being of our students and dedicated employees, ”said Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of the largest school district in the state, which is still deciding on a future term. back to school later this month.

Masks are a key tool for preventing coronaviruses that pose no health risks to children older than toddlers and are more effective when worn by more people, health experts say public. The Centers for Disease Control again recommended them for schools.

But the mask rules have nonetheless sparked strong protests, including the takeover of school board meetings, from activists worried about side effects, questioning the need and saying parents should decide. .

DeSantis’ threat to withhold wages was presented to the White House on Tuesday as press secretary Jen Psaki weighed in paying federal funds to school officials who “are doing whatever it takes to protect students and keep schools safe and open ”.

Although children are less likely to suffer serious health effects than the elderly, the latest wave of COVID-19 to hit Florida is also fueling a “huge increase” in cases among children, many of whom are older. sick than doctors have seen him before, the chief said on Wednesday a doctor at one of the state’s top children’s hospitals. Executives of other medical systems in virus hotspots like Louisiana say a similar situation is occurring in their pediatric hospitals.

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DeSantis, for its part, said the number of children hospitalized is on the rise as the total number of coronavirus cases is on the rise. “There has been no change in the proportion of pediatric patients positive for COVID,” he said.

At least three Florida school districts appear to be defying DeSantis’ executive order banning masks, including the state’s second most populous county and another around the state capital.

In Texas, where COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked in six months, a judge sided with San Antonio and temporarily allowed the city, county and public schools to demand masks. Another hearing is scheduled for next week. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott banned warrants in July and shows no signs of backing down, although other school districts in major cities like Dallas, Houston and Austin are issuing warrants in defiance of his ban.

A state ban on mask warrants is also not doing well in Arkansas courts. It was temporarily blocked last week by a state judge who said the ban violated the state’s constitution. One of the plaintiffs was a school district in Arkansas where more than 1,000 staff and students had to self-quarantine due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Since the decision, at least three dozen school districts and charter schools have implemented mask requirements for teachers and students.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas now says he regrets signing the ban, but lawmakers decided not to turn the tide in a special session last week.

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In Utah, meanwhile, the state’s largest county health director is trying to thwart a state law with a new mandate for children under 12. Angela Dunn, who had previously become the target of anti-mask anger as a state epidemiologist, said she is deeply concerned about the infections that make children sick and disrupt schools.

“There is much less drama in a school where all the children wear masks than a spread of COVID in this school and children sent home to treat an illness, or to be quarantined or in isolation,” he said. said Democratic Mayor Jenny Wilson, who backs the move which can still be tanked by Republican-controlled county council.

In South Carolina, a standoff is escalating between the Republican governor and the capital over a school mask mandate that local leaders approved last week. The attorney general threatened to sue Columbia if the leaders tried to enforce the rule to protect elementary and middle school children too young to get vaccinated. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday it should be up to parents to hide children.

Dozens of Arizona doctors pleaded with GOP Governor Doug Ducey to force face coverings in public schools, but he stuck firmly to a ban in the state budget. Yet about 10 districts in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, representing more than 130,000 students and 200 schools, have defied the ban and a high school biology teacher has filed a lawsuit challenging it. A hearing is set for Friday.

“There is no mask ban in Arizona,” Gov. CJ Karamargin spokeswoman said last week. “The legislation passed by the legislature and signed by the governor is clear: Arizona is anti-mandate mask. “

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