The Biden administration warned Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) that it will take back the state's COVID-19 relief aid if it does not redesign programs that use the funding to discourage schools from mandating masks.
Driving the news: The state has two programs that are directed to schools and students. However, these programs take funding away from jurisdictions that have imposed mask requirements in schools, AP reports.One of the programs provides $163 million in funding to schools that do not require face coverings. Another one offers up to $7,000 for parents if their kid's school mandates masks, AP notes.
State of play: The Treasury Department sent a letter to Ducey saying that he has 60 days to redesign those programs in a way that meets the aid's intent, which is to help curb the pandemic, per the Washington Post.The department also said the administration will withhold future federal aid if no changes are implemented.
What they're saying: "By discouraging families and school districts from following this guidance, the conditions referenced above undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19," the Treasury Department's letter said, per AP."Accordingly, these school programs as currently structured are ineligible uses of" the federal aid.
The other side: "This letter is the latest example of a President that is completely out of touch with the American people," Ducey said on Twitter."When it comes to education, President Biden wants to continue focusing on masks. In Arizona, we’re going to focus on math and getting kids caught up after a year of learning loss," he added."We will respond to this letter, and we will continue to focus on things that matter to Arizonans. President Biden should do the same."
Don't forget: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking in all schools, regardless of vaccination status.