A fierce debate has raged in almost every state in the United States regarding the mandatory or optional use of facemasks in educational institutions. Many school boards have made it mandatory as a requirement to attend classes, which has been seen by many as an abuse of authority, limiting the freedoms and rights of millions of children and young people in the country.
In at least 14 states, lawsuits have been filed in favor or against mandatory masks in schools. This situation caused a real rift between those who consider it unnecessary and those who continue to promote mask mandates and their permanent use.
The rules for masks in public schools vary widely. Some states require them; others prohibit mandates. Still others leave it up to individual districts.
Discussions over this issue have deepened over the past few months, especially since a large proportion of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. Many dissenting voices have arisen that find no explanation for the continued use of masks.
In some cases, the confrontations have escalated in tone and turned violent. Thus, in the midst of protests and violent discussions about the use of masks in the United States, the judicial battle has just begun.
In this context, numerous groups of parents have been organizing and expressing their disagreement with the obligation for their children to wear a mask during school hours. In different parts of the United States, groups of concerned parents are confronting school boards who, together with teachers’ unions, continue to demand that masks be worn even inside the classroom.
The early judicial record is quite mixed, with victories for mask advocates in some states, followed by simultaneous decisions in others such as Texas and Florida that go in the opposite direction. The Texas Supreme Court blocked another school mask mandate on Thursday, reports AP News.
It is generally Republican officials and more conservative sectors who take issue with mask mandates, arguing that there are negative consequences to children being masked all day and that parents should be the ones to decide whether or not their children should wear them. The main argument is that children are generally much less vulnerable to the virus than older adults.
What is clear is that the battle for the obligatory use of masks is not even. Those who advocate their extreme use have the support of the Biden administration and the entire federal apparatus.
In the midst of the back-to-school facemask war, Biden has just ordered the U.S. Department of Education to use every available measure to prevent states from banning facemask mandates in schools.
Biden also criticized people who demonstrated against facemask mandates at a school board meeting in Tennessee last week, arguing that the protesters threatened doctors and nurses who advocate the use of masks.
However, he ignored threats made against other physicians who make their case against facemask mandates, including an Illinois physician who says state regulators suggest they may lose their medical license because of their position on masking in schools.
Governors in eight states that have banned school masking mandates, including Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah, have already received or will soon receive letters from the Biden administration chastising them for their policies and warning them of possible federal action.
It should be noted that these states have banned the mandatory wearing of masks in schools but have not banned the wearing of masks. This means that individuals are free to wear masks at any time and for any reason.