The U.S. Department of Education on Monday said it had notified state education leaders in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah that its Office of Civil Rights will investigate their school mask mandate bans. The department announced that it had sent letters to the five states warning that their statewide injunctions against indoor mask mandates might constitute discrimination on the basis of disability. The civil rights office is probing whether mandate bans prevent students with disabilities, who may be immunocompromised or otherwise at high risk for COVID-19, from safely returning to the classroom alongside their peers. “It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said. Investigations into other states with rising case numbers associated with a return to in-person learning, including Florida and Texas, have not yet been opened, as those states’ proposed mask mandates have been struck down or blocked in court, the department noted Monday.
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