Former Surgeon General Slams ‘Unconscionable’ Bans on School Mask Mandates

Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Tuesday during an interview on CBS “This Morning” said state governors barring schools from imposing mask mandates is “unconscionable.”

When asked about the Republican governors of Florida and Texas sparring with local officials over school mask mandates, Adams, who served in the Trump administration, said that “as a physician, as a public health expert, it’s deeply troubling that it seems we’re letting politics get in the way of protecting our youth.”

He added, “As a father, I quite frankly think it’s unconscionable. I really do. I think you can’t tie the hands of schools and public health officials based on what you perceive to be the reality when your public health officials are telling you they need these tools.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday announced that the state’s Board of Education could withhold salaries of superintendents and members of school boards who try to require masks in schools as his state sees a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a similar order earlier this year.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that “we’re clearly at a fork in the road in this country,” over the issue of school mask mandates.

“You’re either going to help students be in school in-person and be safe, or the decisions you make will hurt students,” he said. “While I understand the argument around not wanting to wear masks because we’re fatigued, without question student safety and staff safety come first.”

Adams on Tuesday called on parents to vaccinate their children before they return to school.

“Parents, if your kids are over 12, please talk to your doctor and health provider and get your questions answered so you can get them vaccinated,” he said. 

“And keep an eye on the numbers in your area, the Covid numbers, so you can make an informed decision, even as the politicians out there are telling you that they won’t let it be mandated,” Adams said.

He also commented on the current COVID-19 situation across the U.S., saying that “we’re going to see increasing hospitalizations. Fortunately, with higher vaccination rates, we’re not going to see as many deaths as we could otherwise see. But it’s going to be a really tough next couple of weeks.”

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