At issue are two state programs that are meant to help schools and students but that direct funding away from jurisdictions with mask requirements. Arizona's Education Plus-Up Grant Program provides $163 million in funding to schools, but districts that require face coverings are ineligible. And its COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit Program provides for up to $7,000 for parents if their child's school requires face coverings.
In a Friday letter, the Treasury Department warned that the state has 60 days to remove the anti-masking provisions before the federal government moves to recover the relief money, and it threatened to withhold the next tranche of aid as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal mask-wearing in school settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Arizona has already received about half of the $4.2 billion awarded to the state under the the 2021 coronavirus relief bill.