Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
President Joe Biden hailed the efforts Thursday of health care workers, educators, and local officials who have been valiantly trying to ensure the safety of school-aged children amid the delta surge, particularly in GOP-led states.
Speaking at a White House press conference, Biden said many people have been trying to turn the issue of mask-wearing—a public safety measure—into a "political dispute."
"This isn't about politics. This is about keeping our children safe," Biden said, referencing disturbing video from Tennessee in which parents threatened medical professionals following a school board meeting where they recommended universal in-school masking.
"Our health care workers are heroes," Biden said, "They were the heroes when there was no vaccine. Many of them gave their lives trying to save others. And they're heroes again with a vaccine. They're doing their best to care for the people refusing to get vaccinated, and unvaccinated folks are being hospitalized and dying as a result of not being vaccinated."
Then Biden pivoted directly to mask mandates in schools.
"To the mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders, who are standing up to the governors politicizing mask protection for our kids—thank you," said the president. "Thank God that we have heroes like you, and I stand with you all, and America should as well."
Eight states have enacted laws or issued executive orders banning school districts from requiring students to wear masks: Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. In all of them, Republicans control the governor's mansion and both state legislative chambers. And all of the GOP politicians in those states will be personally responsible for every child who goes back to school—defenseless—and dies on their watch.
It's also worth noting that outside of GOP voters, local in-school mask mandates are very popular among parents. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released this week found 63 percent of parents think unvaccinated students and staff should be required to wear masks at school. While 69 percent of Republicans are against in-school masking mandates, 88% of Democrats support the mandates along with 66% of independents.
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