Two Florida counties issued mandates to students for masks Wednesday, in defiance of the Gov.’s ban. Ron DeSantis, and at risk of sanctions
Hillsborough County Public Schools voted in favor of a temporary 30-day mandate during an emergency meeting, called after 5,599 students and 316 staff members have either tested positive for Covid-19 or been exposed to the coronavirus in the district.
Miami-Dade Public Schools in the largest county in the state voted for Wednesday’s mandate to use masks.
Both school boards allowed medical exemptions to the mandate.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive directive prohibiting mask mandates in schools, and threatened those districts that defy it.
The Florida Board of Education voted Tuesday to penalize Alachua and Broward county public school districts for their own mask mandates. Although it is not clear what sanctions will be imposed on the districts, DeSantis has previously threatened to withhold funding from the state in an amount equal to the salaries for all members of the school board and the superintendents.
Superintendent for Hillsborough District, Addison Davis, advised against a mandate. He suggested that parents continue to be able to opt out of children wearing masks. This was based on the state’s punishments against the two counties at the meeting.
Davis stated that Davis was proud of Davis’s stand against the two school districts’ stances and that they were clear about how funds will be held. “Which, according to our organization, is impossible to withstand.”
Davis said, however, he would still support the board, regardless of what decision they made.
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, however, asked the school board not to approve the mandate citing a medical taskforce that recommended the district mandate the wearing of masks.
“My mind is pretty made up on the way to move forward,” Carvalho told the Miami Herald Tuesday. “And that is in complete agreement with the recommendations by this task force.”
President Joe Biden directed Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Wednesday to use his authority to combat governors who block districts from issuing mask mandates, including potential legal action if necessary.
Biden added that if governors threaten to cut salaries from educators, funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan could be used to make up the difference.
Hillsborough County board members were invited to meet with public health experts and answer questions about possible mask mandates. Experts agree that vaccinations and masks are the best ways to prevent spread in schools, given the size of the district.
Hillsborough County Public Schools serves more than 200,000 students in the Tampa Bay area. Students, parents, and other community members had the chance to speak during the public comment section.
Some opposed to a mask mandate claimed that positive cases had been largely contracted before the first day at school last week, and that mandates violate the rights of parents and their children. Others spread misinformation about masks, claiming they do not stop the spread of coronavirus despite studies that prove they are an effective prevention method.
False claims regarding masks were also made at the meeting, including the belief that wearing them can impair breathing and lung function. This myth has been repeatedly disproven by health professionals over the past year.
The mandate was supported by members of the public, who urged the board for it to be implemented as soon as possible. Parents who were not able or too young to vaccinate their children also supported the mandate.
“We don’t need to be trying to figure how to keep our kids safe. We know what to do. Robert said that he had done it before. “Enough with politics. There’s plenty of time next year for that nonsense. It’s now about our children.
Children have shown more symptoms with the delta variant of the coronavirus than with previous strains, and they have increasingly been hospitalized in recent weeks. Children’s hospitals in states with high transmission rates are now trying to combat bed shortages