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Cardona: 'We're clearly at a fork in the road' in opening schools safely

Cardona: 'We're clearly at a fork in the road' in opening
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Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Sunday that the country is at a “fork in the road” when it comes to opening schools amid a resurgent coronavirus wave.

“We’re clearly at a fork in the road in this country,” Cardona said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “You’re either going to help students be in school in-person and be safe, or the decisions you make will hurt students. While I understand the argument around not wanting to wear masks because we’re fatigued, without question student safety and staff safety come first.”

Mask mandates for teachers and students has become a contentious issue across the country, particularly in Texas and Florida where Govs. Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis have adamantly opposed some Covid-19 measures.

DeSantis has been in a feud with the White House and with cities and municipalities in his own state, promising to fight any local mask mandates or lockdowns.

Cardona told CBS host John Dickerson that he has reached out to different state leaders in order to find consensus on how to best protect and educate students.

“I did talk to Gov. Abbott, and I spoke to the commissioner in Florida,” Cardona said. “We need to work together to make sure our schools are safe for all students and for our staff.”

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“The data is showing us that in places where they’re not following those mitigation strategies, we’re putting students at risk,” he added. “We can’t accept that.”

As for teachers, Cardona said it would be “helpful” if they were vaccinated, reporting that 90 percent of teachers across the country have already been vaccinated.

“Educators who have bent over backwards for our students this last year are coming together to say, ‘let’s do our part,’” he said. “We know they are lining up to get vaccinated.”

“To those who are making policies that are preventing this,” Cardona said, “don’t be the reason why schools are interrupted, why children can’t go to extracurricular activities, why games are canceled.”

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