Biden praises school leaders for mask stance

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FILE – In this Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021 file photo, Students wearing protective masks walk past a “Welcome Back” sign before the first day of school at Sessums Elementary School in Riverview, Fla. Students are required to wear the masks at school unless their parents opt out. President Joe Biden has called school district superintendents in Florida and Arizona, praising them for doing what he called “the right thing” after their respective boards implemented mask requirements in defiance of their Republican governors amid growing COVID-19 infections. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — President Joe Biden has called school district superintendents in Florida and Arizona, praising them for doing what he called “the right thing” after their respective boards implemented mask requirements in defiance of their Republican governors amid growing COVID-19 infections.

The White House said in a statement Saturday that the Democratic president had spoken with interim Broward Superintendent Vickie Cartwright in Florida and Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Chad Gestson in Arizona.

Biden thanked them for their leadership and discuss their shared commitment to getting all students back in safe, full-time in-person instruction this school year.

Biden’s phone calls of support come as tensions build over whether local school districts can and should require face coverings for students and school staff as in-person classes resume.

In Texas, several school districts — along with the state’s most populous county — won temporary legal victories Friday in seeking to override Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, which they argued is making the COVID-19 pandemic worse.

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