Masks in Schools: Republican Governors Fight for Parents' Choice

The CDC issued new guidance yesterday recommending that everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask indoors – including teachers, staff, students and visitors – regardless of vaccination status. As schools consider the new guidance and whether to require students to wear masks, Republican governors across the country lined up to fight for parents' choice on the matter as their children return to school this fall. 

Florida Ron Governor DeSantis has been outspoken on the issue of requiring children to wear masks in school and who should make that decision. After committing to oppose any federal effort to require masks in schools just last week, his office released the following statement in defense of parents' choice: 

“Governor DeSantis believes that parents know what’s best for their children; therefore, parents in Florida are empowered to make their own choices with regards to masking. Experts have raised legitimate concerns that the risks of masking outweigh the potential benefits for children, because masking children can negatively impact their learning, speech, emotional and social development, and physical health (e.g., infections from bacteria that’s often found on masks, difficulty breathing while exercising in masks, etc.) Fortunately, the data indicate that COVID is not a serious risk to healthy children, which is why schools in most countries were among the first institutions to reopen. At the end of the day, the Governor trusts parents to weigh the risks and benefits and make the best choices for their kids.”

But Governor DeSantis did not stand alone. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also made his position clear on parents' right to choose whether their children will wear masks in school:

Across the country, Republican governors stand against the CDC's new guidance for how it negatively impacts children, undermines public confidence in the success of available measures to combat COVID-19, and attacks the important choice parents have to make that decision for their children. 

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey also released a statement in response to the new guidance:

"Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated. We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change.

"The CDC today is recommending that we wear masks in school and indoors, regardless of our vaccination status. This is just another example of the Biden-Harris administration’s inability to effectively confront the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Public health officials in Arizona and across the country have made it clear that the best protection against COVID-19 is the vaccine. Today’s announcement by the CDC will unfortunately only diminish confidence in the vaccine and create more challenges for public health officials 一 people who have worked tirelessly to increase vaccination rates.

The 14th Amendment has long defended a parent's right to make decisions on behalf of their minor children, and whether kids should wear masks in school should be no different. Schools should not be making a decision that rightfully belongs to parents.