The state bans have drawn fire from the Biden administration. On Tuesday, President Biden singled out Mr. DeSantis and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican who has barred mask and vaccination mandates. The president said the governors should “at least get out of the way of people who are trying to do the right thing.”
On Thursday, the secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, said the White House was expecting educators to follow the health practices that worked last year.
The opposite dynamic is playing out in Illinois, where Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said this week that all school districts must impose full mask mandates, and not the mask-optional policies that many had adopted. Some districts have changed their policies to comply, but at least one said that it would only evaluate the new order, according to The Daily Herald, a newspaper serving the Chicago suburbs.
Mask-wearing policies take on added importance in schools because, while students aged 12 to 17 are now eligible for inoculation, no vaccine has yet been authorized for use in children under 12. And while children are less likely than adults to become ill from the virus themselves, they can transmit it to others.
“You can’t control how they interact and touch each other,” Ms. Graham said. “If there’s a virus, kids will take it to home.”