6.5: Pandemic Policy Information in the Media

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, states have used their 10th Amendment powers to implement emergency public health and education policies (e.g., declarations of emergency, stay-at-home orders, mask mandates and mask mandate bans, travel restrictions, and vaccination rules), generating strong public debate and, in some cases, intense opposition.

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As the COVID-19 Delta variant surged in summer 2021, schools and the education  sector became one of the most highly disputed areas of COVID-related policies. In some cases, state policies were in direct opposition to local rules. For example, throughout 2021, Florida's governor maintained steadfast opposition to masks for students and teachers in public schools, while local school boards voted to continue requiring face covering in classrooms and corridors. The governor threatened "maximum sanctions," including loss of state education funding while the Biden Administration suggested it would provide federal funds if state monies were withheld (Politico, August 10, 2021).

In Texas as well, school leaders in Dallas and Austin, among other districts, defied the state governor's executive order that schools cannot require masks. Disputes over COVID-19 policies have heightened tensions within communities. In one Colorado county, sheriff's deputies were posted at schools for the first day of class to prevent disruptions from parents who objected to the district's in-school mask requirements (Bradbury, 2021).

Masks are just one of the public policy issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. What level of government (local, state, federal) should decide vaccination mandates, vaccine passports, travel restrictions, eviction policies, and other matters? Or should these decisions be left to individuals and families? 

Now, consider for a moment - how have you learned about your state's government policies during the COVID-19 Pandemic? Does your state government use the media to inform, persuade, and educate citizens about their pandemic policies?

In this activity, you will examine how state governments have used the media to communicate their COVID-19 pandemic policies. 

Activity: Evaluate State Government's Media Use

Additional Resources

Connecting to the eBook

Building Democracy for All: State Government Pandemic Policies

Connecting to the Standards