Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, on Tuesday, Aug. 17, reminded school districts to continue in-person education and stay away from demanding masks from students or risk their new grants.
“Parents are in the driver’s seat, and it’s their right to make decisions that best fit the needs of their children,” he said, according to CNN. “Safety recommendations are welcomed and encouraged—mandates that place more stress on students and families aren’t.”
Public school districts are defying the June 30 House Bill 2898, which bars schools from imposing masks and vaccine mandates amid growing anxiety over the constant spike in new COVID-19 cases related to the Delta variant.
They argued that the legislation was not going into effect until mid-September, CNN reported, meaning they were still eligible to impose masks requirements until that period at least.
Meanwhile, Ducey devised a $163 million school grant program with federal virus relief funding that he manages. However, schools with mask regulations or shut down due to COVID-19 or CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreaks will not be eligible for the extra $1,800 per student.
“These grants acknowledge efforts by schools and educators that are following state laws and keeping their classroom doors open for Arizona’s students,” Ducey said.
Even if the legislation takes more than a month to take effect, Ducey spokesperson C.J. Karamargin said school districts with current mask mandates would have 10 days to repeal them or forfeit the money, ABC News added.
Ducey had also promised to award parents $7,000 for each student if their public schools require them to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. The money can also be granted in case of masks mandate and vaccine differentiation.
“Our COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit will empower parents to exercise their choice when it comes to their child’s education and COVID-19 mitigation strategies,” he said, according to the outlet.
At least 16 Arizona school districts are forcing students and employees to wear masks indoors due to concerns about the delta variety.
The districts have 198,000 pupils and roughly 300 schools, with the majority of them being in Tucson and metro Phoenix. There are around 1.1 million public school students in Arizona.
In the previous six weeks, COVID-19 cases had risen dramatically in Arizona, with substantial outbreaks in several school districts. On Tuesday, state health officials recorded 2,661 instances of the illness, with three fatalities.
Since the pandemic began, the Arizona Department of Health Services has documented 970,523 cases and 18,467 casualties from the virus. In Arizona, 54% of the state’s 7.1 million residents have been vaccinated.
Doctors are warning they saw more children severely affected by the Delta variant.
Children were less vulnerable to the original COVID-19 virus.