US Education Secretary Cardona returns to Connecticut to tour Waterbury schools
The nation's top education leader was back in his home state of Connecticut Friday to tour several schools in Waterbury.
U.S. Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona took questions outside the Dual Language International School after touring it with Gov. Ned Lamont and Rep. Jahana Hayes.
Cardona praised Gov. Ned Lamont for making "hard decisions" including requiring masks for kids and vaccines for staff.
"We're not seeing the closure of schools here in Connecticut that we're seeing in other places, because it's not optional," he says.
Cardona is taking on governors in the South, where some states are banning mask mandates even when local schools want them.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to stop paying local school leaders if they require masks. Cardona fired back, offering federal money to pay their salaries.
He's also investigating five other states that have banned masks for possible civil rights violations.
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"I really wouldn't characterize it as a battle. We're on the same team. I've reached out to Gov. DeSantis. I've spoken to Gov. Abbott, and I'll continue to work with governors across the country," he says.
But the issue has flared up in Connecticut too. Last week, mask protesters got in the governor's face - abruptly ending a back-to-school event.
Waterbury's superintendent admits masks aren't popular, but says she hasn't gotten much resistance even to the vaccine requirement.
"I believe that the teachers union was quite pleased that it became a requirement because that way it wasn't just an arbitrary decision that was made," says Waterbury School superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin.
She says the district is working on a process for staff who want to opt-out of vaccines.
The deadline to get at least one vaccine dose is Sept. 27. If they get a waiver, they'll have to get tested once a week.