States With School Mask Mandate Bans Likely Won’t Lose Federal Funding, Education Secretary Suggests—But Will Face Investigations

Biden's administration will likely pursue states that prohibit school districts imposing mask mandates. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona however suggested Sunday that revoking federal funding for such districts would be counterproductive. This is after Florida penalized two districts for violating its order.

On the first day of classes at Baldwin Park Elementary school on August... [+] 10, in Orlando, Florida, students wore face masks. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Key Facts

Cardona stated that the Department of Education is ready to investigate claims that state mask bans have discriminated against students and blocked their access to education. This was after Cardona and President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the Department of Education would use its civil rights arm in an effort to pursue state mask bans. Chuck Todd asked Cardona if federal government actions are a denial of federal money. Cardona replied that the Department of Education is ready to launch investigations into claims that state mask mandate bans have discriminated against students or blocked their access to education. Cardona stated this on Meet the Press Sunday, after President Joe Biden and Cardona announced Wednesday that the Department of Education will use its civil rights arm to pursue federal funding bans. At least eight states have placed bans on school districts in Florida, Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma. The ban was overturned by the courts in Arkansas. Additionally, the Biden administration sent letters warning each state of possible consequences. States could be violating a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act that grants federal funding to states to develop a plan to return to in-person instruction. Cardona stated in a blog posting earlier this week that they may also be in violation if they prevent districts from adopting science-based strategies to stop Covid-19 transmission.

Important Quote

Let's get rid of politics, and let the education leaders and health professionals make the decisions about how to keep students safe.


The Florida Board of Education moved Friday to remove the cost of salaries of school board members from state funding for two districts with mandates mask. Cardona stated Sunday that those schools, and all others, will be able replace the funding they lost with federal funds already allocated to those districts. Cardona stated that he had told the superintendents of those districts that the White House has their back, and that the state can't block them from accessing federal funds.

Important Background

As the school year begins, the controversy surrounding school mask mandate bans has increased. Although most states have banned mask mandates in school districts, six Florida districts have voted to implement mask mandates. This is in violation of Florida's policy. The state is not only going after the two districts Florida has already punished, but will also pursue those who have followed their lead. Christina Pushaw, spokesperson of Florida Governor, stated that no one is above the law. Even school board members. Those found violating state law will be punished. Forbes was informed Thursday by Ron DeSantis in an email. Arizona Governor. Doug Ducey stated that he would withhold federal funds from schools that have mandates to mask, even before Arizona's ban officially takes effect on September 29. Schools in South Carolina could also be subject to funding cuts because of mandates.

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The President's Call to Support Safe and Sustained School Reopening (U.S. Department of Education).

States that ban mask mandates could be subject to civil rights investigations (Associated Press).

Tennessee is the latest state to ban school mask mandates

Schools in Florida sanctioned for imposing mask mandates Schools in these states could be punished next (Forbes).

Florida to Provide Funding for 2 School Districts that Have Imposed Mask Mandates. They Must Be Removed within 48 Hours (Forbes).