PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL – A second-grader in Florida has been suspended from school a whopping 38 times for violating the district’s COVID-19-related mask mandate, and her parents are being informed that she has missed so many classes as a result that she may be forced to repeat the second grade.
In July, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order making face masks optional in schools, but regardless, the Palm Beach County school district has made mask-wearing mandatory.
However, 8 year-old Fiona Lashells has steadfastly refused to wear a mask to school for months, and is now facing the prospect of being left behind a grade for her decision.
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“You wear it for a long time and you breathe in all those germs,” Fiona said. “You set it down at lunch and put it back on your face and breathed that all in all day long.”
Fiona’s stance echoes an ongoing conflict in the state of Florida, pitting Governor DeSantis’ executive orders over mandatory mask mandates and local school districts, many of whom still require the wearing of masks despite the potential for fines and/or the withholding of state funding.
Each time she has not worn a mask, Fiona has been suspended immediately and sent home with a note for her parents to explain what happened.
“I’m doing it for other kids,” she said. “Not just myself.”
Bailey Lashell, Fiona’s mom, said that she was in disbelief that her daughter could be suspended so many times over not wearing a face covering.
“I was really shocked by it. I couldn’t believe it was all over not complying with the mask mandate,” Lashell said. “We have no problem with somebody wearing a mask. We just feel that the kids in this situation – or I guess the parents – should have been given that choice.”
The brave little second grader confronted her local school board and asserted that they should be in jail.
…and okay yeah I hope you all go to jail for doing this to me.[Listen to this Statement]
The Palm Beach County school district has announced that it intends to end its mask mandate as of November 15; in addition, two other school districts, Orange County and Broward County, announced this week that they will begin including an option to opt-out of wearing masks as well.
As for Fiona – whose latest suspension ends Monday – it remains to be seen if she will be allowed to progress to the third grade with the rest of her class.