As some schools prepare for new vaccine mandates that will require all employees to get vaccinated, others are blocking school mask requirements and other efforts to try to keep students and educators safe from COVID-19.

Republican-led states like Florida and Texas have imposed rules that say school districts can't establish mask mandates despite both states’ soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases. The Department of Education is preparing to investigate the schools that are blocking COVID-19 safety protocols. 

"We are prepared to launch investigations with our Office for Civil Rights to ensure that all students have access to this fundamental right of education. We're going to use our Office for Civil Rights to investigate any claims that come forward to make sure that students' rights are kept," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

This news also comes as Florida Republican leaders announced they will start withholding pay if schools’ current mask mandate policy was not reversed. 

In response to the news, President Joe Biden last week asked the Department of Education to take a tough stand against those who he said are trying to “block and intimidate” local school officials.

“I’m directing the secretary of education to take additional steps to protect our children,” Biden said. “This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal action if appropriate against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators.”

In addition to potential civil rights probes against states banning mask mandates, Cardona is also vowing to help school districts being threatened by their local government officials. 

"We stand ready to assist any district facing repercussions for imposing CDC-recommended COVID-19 prevention strategies that will protect the health and safety of students, educators, and staff," Cardona said in a statement.

Cardona also sent a letter to the governors of Florida and Texas as well as governors of Arizona, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, who set bans on school masking mandates. In the letter, he said governors are putting students at risk and “may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by federal law.”

The Department of Education also argued that mask banning could also lead to discrimination against some students who cannot attend school because it becomes unsafe for their health.

The Associated Press noted how the potential lawsuit amounts to the sharpest threat yet against states that so far have ignored admonishments from the White House during the surging pandemic.