Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the daily press briefing on August 5, 2021, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the daily press briefing on August 5, 2021, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Thursday called out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for banning mask mandates for schools, saying, “Don’t be the reason why schools are interrupted.”

However, beyond “conversations,” Cardona would not specifically say what the Education Department would do to force the hand of states that oppose mask mandates in schools.

“You know, don’t be the reason why schools are interrupted. Our kids have suffered enough. Let’s do what we know works. Let’s do what we know works across the country. We shouldn’t get pol- — politics should — doesn’t have a role in this. Educators know what to do. We did it last year,” he told reporters at the White House.

“So, I have calls out to those states, but at the end of the day, I want to work with Texas. I want to work with Florida. I want to make sure those students have access to in-person learning. So, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together, and it’s critically important that we have conversations with governors directly, with state chiefs directly,” Cardona added.

“We want to be an ally and make sure that we’re supporting our students,” the secretary said.

“My question is: You’ve talked a bunch about, kind of, science not being in the way, not — politics not being able to get in the way of science,” PBS Newshour White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said.

“I wonder what mechanisms, what sticks, what sort of consequences might the Education Department have in its toolbox to ensure that in districts where we see school leaders fighting with, frankly, politicians when it comes to CDC guidance that the Education Department might be able to back some of those school districts up,” she said.

“We’re seeing places where school districts want to mandate masks, but obviously state leaders are saying they can’t do that.  What could the Education Department do to ensure that those leaders have–” Alcindor asked.

CARDONA:  Sure. We’re going to constantly work with those states, with those leaders. At the end of the day, we’re on the same team for the kids, right? And, you know, I applaud Governor Hutchinson for what he’s doing, and I recognize that we have to be malleable to address the increase in spread, and that requires partnership. 

You know, withholding money is not — that’s going to hurt kids. That’s going to hurt kids more. So, we’re going to continue to work with those states and do what we can to help them understand how important it is to make sure students are getting into school. 

And my hope is that students go into schools in those communities as well, but if we’re starting to notice that students are not going in because they don’t feel confident, then we’re going to have to have conversations about that.

ALCINDOR: Those conversations, you said you don’t want to withhold money. Is there anything else that the Department can do if it’s not — that won’t hurt kids but that can send a message that science and politics can’t mix?

CARDONA: We’re in this to stay, and we want to make sure those kids get into school, and we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen. 

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