White House ‘not going to sit by’ as governors block masks in schools, POTUS says

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - President Joe Biden says his administration will not allow governors to block schools from mandating masks in classrooms.

Speaking Wednesday from the White House, the president discussed the political nature of the mask debate and cited for the second time a heated Tennessee school board meeting after which protesters confronted health care professionals spoke in favor of masking in schools.

The president also referenced states, like Tennessee, where governors and other state lawmakers have found ways to block or ban school mask mandates.

“Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout his pandemic, some politicians are trying to turn public safety measures – that is children wearing masks in school – into political disputes for their own political gain,” said Biden. “Some are even trying to take power from local legislators by banning masks in school. They’re setting a dangerous tone. For example, last week, at a school board meeting in Tennessee, protesters threatened doctors and nurses who were testifying, making a case for masking children in schools. The intimidation and threats that were seen across the country are wrong, they’re unacceptable. And I’ve said before, this isn’t about politics. It’s about keeping our children safe. It’s about taking on the virus together, united. I’ve made it clear, I’ll stand with those who are trying to do the right thing.”

Earlier this week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order giving parents the chance to opt their children out of mandatory masks in schools.

Biden said he’s instructed the Education Department to pursue legal action if necessary “against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators.”

“You know, we’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children,” said Biden.

He said money from the American Rescue Plan will pay an educator’s salary if their pay is cut for requiring masks in classrooms.

“I’m going to say a lot more about children in schools next week, but as we head into the school year remember this – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, says masks are critical especially for those who are not yet vaccinated like our children under the age of 12,” said Biden. “So let’s put politics aside. Let’s follow the educators and the scientists who know a lot more about how to teach our children and keep them safe than any politician. This administration is always going to take the side of our children.”

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