U.S. Education Secretary to DeSantis: DOE ‘stands with educators’ on COVID policies

ORLANDO, Fla. — In a letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona vowed to use federal funds to pay educators who have their salaries withheld by the state.

The letter, also addressed to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, cites recent actions by the state to block school districts from adopting policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

READ: Florida doctors, teachers call on Gov. DeSantis to reverse order blocking COVID mandates in schools

Gov. DeSantis signed an executive order late last month banning mask mandates in schools, and on Monday, released a statement threatening to withhold the salaries of school administrators who enact such policies.

In his letter to DeSantis and Corcoran, Cardona emphasized his position that the U.S. Department of Education “stands with educators” who are working to safely reopen schools.

READ: CDC committee recommends additional vaccine dose for immunocompromised people

The letter goes on to explain that the Department of Education has the authority to use emergency relief funds to pay the salaries of educators, superintendents, and school board members who have their pay withheld by the state.

“In other words, any threat by Florida to withhold salaries from superintendents and school board members who are working to protect students and educators...can be addressed at the discretion of Florida school districts,” the letter states.

READ: Parents sue DeSantis, school districts over not enforcing face masks

Cardona sent a similarly-worded letter directly to the state’s superintendents, re-emphasizing his department’s support.

Cardona’s letter to DeSantis concludes by expressing a willingness to partner with the Florida Department of Education, but vows to continue working directly with the school districts if the FL DOE declines.

Read Cardona’s full letter to DeSantis and Corcoran below:

Read Cardona’s letter to Florida’s Superintendents here:

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