On August 13, 2021, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told the Florida Governor and Education Commissioner that he was “deeply concerned about Florida’s July 30 Executive Order prohibiting school districts from adopting universal masking policies consistent with CDC guidance.”


He told Governor DeSantis: “The [U.S. Education] Department recognizes that several school districts in your State have already moved to adopt such policies in line with guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities despite the State level prohibitions. The Department stands with these dedicated educators who are working to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction.” 


Telling the governor that recent COVID-19 relief funds are available to help local school district stay safe, he further said, “…any threat by Florida to withhold salaries from superintendents and school board members who are working to protect students and educators (or to levy other financial penalties) can be addressed using ESSER [relief] funds at the sole and complete discretion of Florida school districts.”


By August 18, President Biden was expanding the effort. In letters to the governors of ArizonaIowaOklahomaSouth CarolinaTennesseeTexas, and Utah, Cardona said bans on school masking mandates are putting students at risk and “may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by federal law.”