U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued the following statement in response to the Florida State Board of Education’s August 20th orders to Alachua and Broward County school districts:
"The Biden Administration is fully committed to a safe and healthy return to in-person learning for all students this fall. It is deeply troubling to see state leaders putting politics ahead of the health and safety of our students, and that instead of supporting our educators for doing the right thing, state leaders are trying to punish them. This week, the President asked me to do everything I can to help protect our nation's students and support the local leaders who are fighting for them. Let me reiterate: we stand ready to assist any district facing repercussions for imposing CDC-recommended COVID-19 prevention strategies that will protect the health and safety of students, educators, and staff. To that end, we've also made clear to district leaders that any financial penalties imposed by the state can be addressed immediately using CARES, CRRSA, or American Rescue Plan funds. Today, I also spoke directly to the Superintendents of Broward and Alachua County schools to reassure them that the President and his Administration stand with them and with all educators who put student and staff health and education first."
- As outlined in the Secretary's letter to Florida state leaders, the Department of Education considers these funds are part of "activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency" and an allowable use of CARES, CRRSA, and American Rescue Plan funds.
- The Secretary spoke with Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright from Broward County, and Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon from Alachua County today and reiterated the Administration's support for dedicated educators like them doing the right thing to protect student, educator, and staff safety. He discussed how they can and should use federal pandemic relief funds to address any financial penalties levied against their districts as a result of them using CDC-recommended COVID-19 prevention strategies to protect the health and safety of their school communities. He also expressed disappointment in state leaders choosing to penalize educators at the time when they need the most support.