Schools in Florida’s capital impose mask warrant
The principal of the Florida capital school announced on Sunday that masks would be required for students in Kindergarten to Grade 8, becoming the Seventh District to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on these COVID- mandates. 19.
Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna said the district has seen positive tests for the coronavirus skyrocket since the school opened Aug. 11 in Tallahassee and its immediate suburbs. He said parents who don’t want their elementary or high school student to wear a mask will need to get a signed note from their child’s doctor or psychologist by Friday.
Leon, who has 32,000 students, had planned to open the school year with such a warrant, but backed down after DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said districts could only impose a mask warrant. if parents could remove their children themselves. They threatened to cut funding to districts that impose tighter mandates and impose sanctions on their elected officials.
Hanna said he was “totally in favor of individual rights and freedoms and the rights of parents,” but that does not include the right to endanger the health of others.
“I don’t believe masks are necessarily the end, but we know they make the difference. The vast majority of healthcare experts tell us they’re making a difference, ”Hanna said in a statement posted on Facebook.
High school students are exempt because they are old enough to be vaccinated.
Other districts that have imposed strict mask mandates are Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Alachua and Sarasota. All but Sarasota are Democratic strongholds and DeSantis, a Republican, accused them of playing politics. Democrats have accused DeSantis of the same, saying he is using his anti-mask mandate position to create a national profile for a possible 2024 presidential bid.
The governor’s press office did not immediately respond to an email and phone call on Sunday seeking comment. DeSantis said last week that districts that impose mask warrants are breaking a law the legislature passed this year and he signed that says it is up to parents to decide whether their child should be masked and that schools cannot force them. He said that he, Corcoran and the state board of education were only enforcing the law.
A three-day hearing is scheduled to begin Monday on a lawsuit challenging DeSantis’ interpretation of that law and whether Florida’s constitution gives the state the right to override districts over health matters.
“Forcing young kids to wear masks all day, these kindergarten kids, having the government to force them on, that doesn’t challenge me, it defies the laws of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “It’s not something we make up. That’s what state law says. These emergency ordinances implement the law that the Legislature passed and I can tell you it There are a lot of members of the Legislature who say, “Wait a minute – are you right above the law? You think you can do whatever you want? It’s not like that.”
Hanna said he understood that unlike school board-appointed superintendents in the other six districts who instituted strict mask mandates, an elected DeSantis could suspend him. He said he was ready to take the risk and called on DeSantis to empower local officials to make the decisions they believe are best for their communities.
“Governor, just as you fight to protect the sovereignty of the State of Florida, we simply ask that you have the same consideration for us,” Hanna said.