JACKSONVILLE, FL – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has encouraged educators preparing for the upcoming 2021-22 school year in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to have a “normal” school year, saying “These kids do not need to be wearing these masks,” reports say.
During a televised news conference at Christ the King Catholic School in Jacksonville on Tuesday, DeSantis said that he does not believe that strict safeguards are required in the upcoming fall school semester, noting that children need to finally be able to return to their normal lives after over a year of COVID-related restrictions.
“Our direction is relatively simple: Have a normal school year. These kids do not need to be wearing these masks, OK? I’m sorry, they don’t,” DeSantis said. “We need to be able to let them be kids and let them act normally. And that’s what should be the case in the fall throughout the school year.”
This comes on the heels of a memo sent to school superintendents by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, suggested to school districts that mask-wearing in the upcoming school year should be on a voluntary basis only, as opposed to required via mandates.
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Currently, public schools in South Florida require masks for all students and staff, including the Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade school districts. However, school officials have stated that they are “monitoring conditions,” and as a result and none of the aforementioned districts have announced their COVID-19 safeguards for 2021-22 yet.
The most recent guidance for public schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes at least three feet of space between students if mask-wearing is mandated, and at least six feet of space when students are engaged in activities where mask-wearing is not possible, such as when students are eating.