Republicans across the country are working to prohibit face mask requirements in public schools. A new poll shows more than two-thirds of Americans disagree with the GOP on this.
An Axios-Ipsos poll of U.S. adults released Tuesday found that 69 percent support mandatory masking in schools. That figure includes 92 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents, and even 44 percent of Republicans.
Just one-third of adults backed laws preventing local mask requirements; two-thirds opposed them. And 77 percent of Americans opposed efforts by states to withhold funds to local schools and governments that do require masks.
The same poll showed 64 percent support for requiring masks in all public areas to curb the spread of COVID-19.
With the Delta variant now dominant in the United States, the number of daily coronavirus cases across the country has increased by more than 900 percent over the past two months. But despite the clear public mandate for mask requirements, Republicans have strongly opposed them and other efforts to fight the spread.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, issued a July 30 executive order to "protect parents' freedom to choose whether their children wear masks." His order called for the withholding of state funds from "noncompliant school boards" that would dare to defy his prohibition.
This month, he threatened to punish school boards and superintendents who implement mask rules by blocking their salaries. When it became clear that he lacked that authority, he backtracked and suggested the officials should voluntarily cut their own pay as punishment.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, also a Republican, has taken similar steps to block governments and school systems from requiring mask usages as schools reopen, issuing his own anti-mask executive order in July. Ignoring the advice of the Texas Association of School Boards and the medical community doctors, he recently demanded the Supreme Court of Texas intervene to block the mask requirements issued in San Antonio and Dallas in defiance of his will. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Abbott himself tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.]
In Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been a vocal opponent of mask rules — both in the U.S. Capitol and in the nation's schools.
While cases have been spiking among youths, many of whom are too young to get vaccinated, and children's hospitalizations have hit an all-time high, McCarthy suggested mask rules were a conspiracy by "liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state."
In a July 27 statement, he incorrectly claimed, "Children should not be forced to wear masks in classrooms for 8+ hours when the actual science proves they are at low risk of contracting or spreading the virus."
"So anybody who tries to tell you, 'Well don't worry about the kids. The virus won't really bother them,' that's not the evidence," National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins told Fox News on Sunday. "And especially with Delta being so contagious, kids are very seriously at risk."
The National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a list-building "survey" email on Friday complaining "They're making your kids wear masks," and "The Radical Left is more concerned with indoctrinating school children and promoting their socialist agenda than fostering the next generation of leaders."
This comes just as schools across the country are set to reopen for the fall semester.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that "everyone older than age 2 wear masks, regardless of vaccination status" in schools.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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