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Representative Chris Jacobs joins list of cosponsors on federal Unmask Our Kids Act

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Posted at 12:37 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 12:37:02-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBW) — Congressman Chris Jacobs has joined a list of sponsors of H.R. 6619, better known as the Unmask our Kids Act.

The bill

The act was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this month by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA1). It would prevent federal funding from being provided to local educational agencies unless in-person instruction is available to all students "at each public elementary school and secondary school under the jurisdiction of such agency." If any school under the agency were to be offering remote-only learning, funds would be withheld.

The bill would also require all schools operating under the local educational agency to allow parents to opt out of mask requirements for their child at school. If a mask mandate is in place at a school without an opt-out option for parents, federal funding would be withheld from the local educational agency.

What is a local education agency?

The federal government defines a local education agency as "a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary or secondary schools in a city, county, township, [or] school district." In short, a local education agency is any public school district or public charter school serving students in any grade between kindergarten and 12th grade.

Federal funding in public schools

According to Education Data Initiative, as of 2021, "the federal government provides 7.8% of funding for public K-12 education." In New York State, K-12 schools receive $3.09 billion from the federal government. State funding is $28.65 billion and local funding (town and county governments) is $40.63 billion.

What's next

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Education and Labor. It can be read in full on congress.gov. From committee, the bill can be released to be put on the session calendar for a vote. If it passes the House, it would be sent to the Senate for a vote. If it is passed by the Senate, President Biden has 10 days to sign it into law or veto it.