TALLAHASSEE, FL – On Tuesday, the Florida Board of Education ruled that two school districts had broke state law after they defied Governor Ron DeSantis recent mandates and instituted mandatory mask-wearing policies for all of their students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status.
School officials in Alachua County and Broward County are currently facing disciplinary actions from the state BOE, up to and including possible removal from their posts by requiring masks for the fall semester, according to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.
“We have districts who are picking and choosing what laws they want to follow,” he said during a Tuesday virtual meeting.
The DeSantis administration has issued a mandate banning mandatory masks in Florida schools, despite the state currently facing record-breaking infection rates and hospitalizations due to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
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Despite the DeSantis-signed mask mandate ban and the potential repercussions for challenging it, additional school districts in the state are also considering issuing mask requirements – such as Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest school district – which could eventually lead down a long road of court dates to determine the legality of either side.
DeSantis, who is planning to run for reelection in 2022 – with a possible run for the White House in 2024 – has long been against mask mandates and lockdowns throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that individuals should have a say over what they do in that regard.
For the most part, many school districts in Florida have complied with the Governor’s mask mandate ban, especially after DeSantis threatened to pulls the salaries of school officials who violate it. However, state leaders were surprised and outraged when the Biden Administration then stepped in and announced that they would replace any cut Florida school funding due to mask mandates with excess COVID-19 relief money.