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After Florida School Mask Mandate Ban Struck Down, More Schools Considering Imposing Their Own Requirements

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 30, 2021


More Florida school districts appear poised to impose their own mask requirements after a Florida judge’s ruling Friday struck down the state’s prohibition on school mask mandates, with at least four school districts meeting this week to consider the issue as Covid-19 cases continue to rise among students in the state.

Key Facts

School boards in Osceola, Brevard and Lee counties will all hold emergency meetings on Monday to consider their mask mandates in light of the rulings, and Volusia County will meet on Tuesday.

The superintendent in Lake County will meet with health officials Monday to make a recommendation to its school board on masks, Fox 35 reports, and Bay County will revisit its mask guidance at a board meeting on September 14 in light of the ruling after previously enacting a mask-optional policy.

Ten Florida school districts now have strict mask mandates in place, which cover approximately 52% of the state’s schoolchildren and were enacted despite a state-level policy that prohibited school districts from imposing mask mandates without a parental opt-out option.

The state voted to sanction two school districts and withhold funding equivalent to their school board members’ salaries, and had been expected to similarly punish the eight districts that followed in their footsteps.

A state judge in Leon County struck down the state policy on Friday, however, issuing a permanent injunction that stops Florida education officials from blocking school districts’ mask orders.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled state leadership had overstepped its authority by enacting the mask mandate ban and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order on it was not actually in line with Florida’s “Parents’ Bill of Rights” law that he claimed it was enforcing.

What To Watch For

Cooper’s injunction on the state mask mandate ban will not actually take effect until the judge signs a written order, which will likely take place in the coming days. The state has already vowed to “immediately” appeal the ruling, and DeSantis said during a press conference Monday he thought the state was “going to have really good grounds to appeal.” “It’ll be appealed, we’ll end up getting it back, and I think at the end of the day, we’re just trying to stand with the parents,” DeSantis said. There are also at least three other lawsuits taking aim at Florida’s school mask mandate ban that are still pending, which could set up conflicting rulings or allow the policy to be struck down again, should the appeals court overturn Cooper’s ruling.

Big Number

54%. That’s the percentage of Florida adults that supported schools being able to mandate masks, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, while 60% support students and school employees being required to wear masks more generally.

Key Background

Florida is one of nine states that has enacted some sort of ban or restriction on schools imposing their own mask mandates. The state’s policy has proved particularly controversial as it faces a massive Covid-19 surge, however, with schools already contributing thousands of new cases to Florida’s outbreak as a new year gets underway. Four counties around Tampa Bay have collectively reported 10,000 Covid-19 cases already just three weeks into the school year, a milestone that took them until February to reach in the 2020-2021 school year. Duval County—whose mask mandate doesn’t go into effect until September 7—also saw a 58% increase in cases last week and Brevard County recorded a record increase of 784 cases between Tuesday and Thursday. Some schools have temporarily had to move back to virtual learning as a result of their positive cases, and several teachers in the state have also died of Covid-19 since the school year began.

Further Reading

Florida School Mask Mandate Ban Struck Down In Court (Forbes)

10 Florida School Districts Now Defying DeSantis’ Mask Mandate Ban (Forbes)

Most Florida Residents Polled Support School Mask Mandates As More Districts Oppose State Ban (Forbes)

Judge Cooper ruled against Florida mask mandate bans. What’s next? (Tampa Bay Times)

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