Anti-vaxxers in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Photo: M. Scott Brauer/Redux

In the middle of August, as the Delta variant began driving coronavirus caseloads back to levels Americans believed they would never see again, Missouri senator Josh Hawley introduced an amendment to the Senate budget resolution addressing what he sensed to be one of his party’s most urgent priorities. Hawley called for restricting federal funding to K–12 schools that mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students, mandate students wear masks, or do not resume in-person instruction. As school districts around the country scramble to figure out how to reopen, Hawley’s plan for public education is to demand in-person schooling while banning any efforts to make it safe. (Hopefully, nobody will tell Hawley about ventilation lest he ban that too.)

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