Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has backpedaled in the row over his order banning mask mandates in schools.

The executive order was signed by the Republican lawmaker on July 30, “ensuring parents’ freedom of choice” about whether their child wears masks. Two Florida counties, Alachua and Broward, have defied the rule and made masks compulsory in schools unless the child has a physician’s note. This is because COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing in Florida.

Gov. DeSantis’s response was that the Board of Education of the State could decide to withhold salaries of the superintendent and school board members.

However, the governor’s office changed its stance Friday and acknowledged that the state does not have any control over the salaries of local employees.

DeSantis spokesperson called for “activists, antiscience school board members to deduct their salaries if the government follows through with financial sanctions against their districts.

Christina Pushaw, the press secretary for the governor, sent an email to the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald stating that “those officials should own their decision” and suggested that students, teachers and school staff bear the cost of their grandstanding.

A Leon County court will hear a case filed by parents representing several Florida counties against the governor’s order. DeSantis is accused of power grab. His rule is alleged to violate state constitutions and threaten schools. Schools have the right to control, operate and supervise classes in their respective districts. The governor is also being sued by parents and other school districts.

Richard Corcoran, Florida’s Education Commissioner, wrote Monday to Broward and Alachua school districts. He threatened to impose financial sanctions if they didn’t change their masking policies. Corcoran claimed that the state’s doctor’s note opt out requirement, which reflects U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, was “inconsistent” and threatened to impose financial penalties on officials.

The Miami Herald reported that Alachua County Public Schools would lose $300,000.0 from its $537million school-year budget in 2021-22 if the penalties were imposed. According to the newspaper, $700,000.0 would be cut from Broward County Public Schools $2.6 billion budget.

As millions of children return to school, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association revealed on Thursday that nearly 4.3 million U.S. COVID-19 cases have affected children–about 14 percent of all cases.

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As the Delta variant spreads, the Sunshine State is experiencing some of the highest levels of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. Florida had 20,656 new cases in just 24 hours on Thursday.

The state is also experiencing the highest rate of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. According to data from the CovKid project, which uses COVID-19 hospitalization numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as of August 7, Florida is reporting 8.1 children hospitalized with COVID-19 per 100,000 residents.

Florida has the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate among residents between 18 and 19. Florida had 20.6 hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents as of August 7.