U.S. education chief supports school mask mandate in high-spread areas

Written by on August 11, 2021

U.S. education chief supports school mask mandate in high-spread areas

By Hayden Mitman

August 11, 2021

Miguel Cardona, United States Secretary of Education, takes a turn on a virtual welding station at Northampton Community College. Photo | Hayden Mitman / WLVR

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited the Lehigh Valley on Tuesday to tout the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan.

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Accompanied by U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Lehigh Valley, Cardona stopped at Northampton Community College. With schools set to soon reopen, he took a moment to discuss protecting young students who cannot yet be vaccinated.

Cardona said his department won’t mandate masks, but it would support a state’s decision to do so. 

“In places where the spread is high, yes we should be wearing masks,” he said. “Yes, I do believe in those places they should be requiring them.”  

U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona is checking out a plasma welder at Northampton Community College. Photo | Hayden Mitman / WLVR

Gov. Tom Wolf has said he won’t be requiring masks in Pennsylvania schools, leaving the decision up to local school districts.

Noting that parts of the country are seeing coronavirus infections rising, Cardona put the responsibility of protecting students on state and local health officials. 

“This is a health pandemic, so we have to make sure we are following what the science says,” he said. “My office is always going to say follow the guidance of the local health officials and state health officials.” 

Cardona said the Department of Education has been working with governors in several states to conduct vaccination clinics. 

At Northampton Community College, United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona watches as students practice climbing utility poles. PHoto | Hayden Mitman / WLVR

“I think we all agree that vaccinations and vaccination clinics and getting more shots in the arms of the unvaccinated is the best way to recover from this pandemic, because it’s safe,” he said. 

Cardona said his office has crafted guidance intended to help states reopen schools safely.

He also urged elected officials to avoid allowing politics to get in the way of protecting students. 

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