Florida school district flip-flops over mask mandate, awaits guidance on DeSantis order

Broward school district ‘waiting for guidance’ after reversing initial mandate

School mask choices for Duval County parents
School mask choices for Duval County parents

MIAMI, Fla. – A Florida school district is “waiting for guidance” after reversing its initial mask mandate due to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order that bans mandates and threatens to cut funding from districts that do not comply.

Broward County’s school board mandated masks for its students and staff following a meeting last week. According to the Associated Press, the board voted “after hours of contentious debate” and a “screaming match from angry anti-mask parents who set fire to masks and held picket signs outside.”

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The vote came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendation for vaccinated individuals to wear masks as well as for those in school settings after the U.S. has been seeing a spike in cases and hospitalizations spurred by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Several days after the updated recommendation from the CDC, DeSantis signed an executive order that directs state departments of education and health to give parents the final say on whether their children should wear masks in school.

Broward’s school board reversed its decision Monday, but the district posted an update Wednesday, saying it’s still weighing whether to restore the mandate as it is awaiting “further guidance.” The school board will discuss next steps during a Special School Board Meeting on Tuesday.

The governor’s office told News 6 on Thursday that rules for school districts in following the executive order are being made.

“We are finalizing health and education emergency rules this week that do not prohibit masks in schools but will require parents to have the right to opt their children out. School districts will be expected to allow parents to make this choice,” the governor’s office said.

DeSantis has continued to double down on no mask mandates or any business restriction as the state continues to see high numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, insisting hospitalizations to drop in the next couple of weeks.

“We are not shutting down,” DeSantis said. “We are going to have schools open. We are protecting every Floridian’s job in this state. We are protecting people’s small businesses. These interventions have failed time and time again throughout this pandemic, not just in the United States but abroad. They have not stopped the spread, particularly with delta.”

Biden has called out Republican leaders, including DeSantis, on their response to the surge in cases and should “get out of the way” of vaccine rules that are aimed to help contain the coronavirus delta variant. The governor responded to Biden’s comments, reiterating that Florida is a free state and parents have the right to make their own decisions about their families and their children’s education.

“If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way. I’m not going to let you get away with it,” DeSantis said. “If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m going to stand in your way.”


About the Author:

Brenda, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando.com team in March 2021.