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Biden calls college chiefs, lauds defiance of anti-mask guidelines

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — President Joe Biden referred to as college district superintendents in Florida and Arizona to reward them for doing “the correct factor” after their respective boards applied masks necessities in defiance of their Republican governors amid rising COVID-19 infections.

The White Home stated in a Saturday assertion that the Democratic president had spoken with interim Broward Superintendent Vickie Cartwright in Florida and Phoenix Union Excessive Faculty District Superintendent Chad Gestson in Arizona “to thank them for his or her management and talk about their shared dedication to getting all college students again in protected, full-time in-person studying this college yr.”

“The President recommended their management and braveness to do the correct factor for the well being and well-being of their college students, academics, and faculties,” the assertion stated.

Biden’s telephone calls of help come as tensions construct over whether or not native college districts can and may require face coverings for college students and college workers as in-person lessons resume. In Texas, a number of college districts — together with the state’s most populous county — gained momentary authorized victories Friday in looking for to override Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on masks mandates, which they argued is making the COVID-19 pandemic worse.

Comparable lawsuits by college districts in different states have additionally been filed.

Clashes over obligatory mask-wearing have already occurred. Officers at a suburban Chicago highschool on Friday despatched a freshman pupil dwelling for refusing to placed on a face protecting, a choice her mom contends violates her 14-year-old daughter’s rights.

Sheri Urlacher stated her daughter was despatched dwelling from Fremd Excessive Faculty in Palatine after officers on the door of the varsity handed her a masks and requested her to place it on. She instructed the Chicago Tribune she was referred to as after her daughter “politely declined” to drag the masks up over her mouth and nostril. Whereas the lady was again at school sporting a masks later within the day, Urlacher stated she was bothered by the varsity’s preliminary resolution to ship her daughter dwelling.

“She’s OK, however she is aware of she has the correct to make selections about her personal physique, and it’s not the correct of the varsity and authorities,” she stated.

The incident comes days after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, ordered face coverings for all college kids from preschool via twelfth grade within the hopes of slowing the unfold of a virulent delta variant of the virus, which has surged in current weeks.

In the meantime, Biden’s name to the chief of the Broward County faculties in Florida escalated the president’s partisan battle with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over how his state’s faculties ought to function because the COVID-19 pandemic worsens within the state. The Biden administration has promised Broward federal cash if Florida’s governor carries out a risk to withhold some state funds from any college district that imposes a masks mandate.

Utilizing a legislation handed this yr, DeSantis has barred faculties and different native governments from imposing masks mandates. The governor has stated he believes masks should not wanted for kids, who’re much less probably than adults to catch the coronavirus, and that they intrude with studying. He additionally has stated it needs to be as much as dad and mom to find out if their youngster wears a masks. The state’s board of training lately stated college students compelled to put on masks over their dad and mom’ objections could possibly be eligible for a voucher that might pay for his or her switch to a personal college.

Broward college officers didn’t reply to an electronic mail Saturday looking for remark. Earlier this week, its college board voted 8-1 to impose the masks mandate over DeSantis’ objection.

DeSantis is operating for reelection subsequent yr and is contemplating a 2024 run in opposition to Biden, with the 2 sniping at one another in current weeks. His press workplace additionally didn’t reply to a name and electronic mail Saturday looking for remark.

In the meantime, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in June signed into legislation funds laws enacted by the Republican-led Legislature to ban college districts from requiring mask-wearing.

Phoenix Union is certainly one of Arizona’s largest college districts with about 28,000 college students and 4,000 workers. After its governing board determined to implement indoor mask-wearing when lessons resumed Aug. 2, six elementary college districts that feed college students to the highschool districts adopted its lead.

The Arizona laws that features the prohibition on mask-wearing mandates by districts takes impact Sept. 29. It features a clause making it retroactive to July 1 however Phoenix Union contends it isn’t binding but and that’s being argued in courtroom.

Arizona on Saturday reported greater than 3,000 further COVID-19 instances for the second straight day. The state final reported that many further instances six months in the past because the winter surge wound down.

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Related Press Author Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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