Gov. DeSantis stands firm on ban of mask mandates in schools

Two counties are defying the governor’s orders

Gov. Ron DeSantis is sticking with his ban on mask mandates inside Florida public schools, despite the surge in COVID-19 cases.

DeSantis was in St. Peterburg and Panama City for news conferences on Wednesday, where he handed out $1,000 bonuses to teachers.

While at an elementary school in St. Petersburg, the Governor mentioned two Florida counties failing to abide by his executive order, Alachua and Leon. Earlier this week, both counties received a letter from Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

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The letter read, in part, “depending on the facts presented, I may recommend to the State Board of Education that the department withhold funds in an amount equal to the salaries for the superintendent and all the members of the school board,”

At the news conference, DeSantis fielded a question about the White House looking for ways to pay superintendents or school board members who defy the governor’s ban on mask mandates.

“So our view, of course, is that we believe this is a decision for the parent to make, just given the uncertainty about what it means particularly for a lot of the young kids to be in that, and I think that’s where the vast majority of the districts, I know we have I think two who were not providing the parents with the rights, but obviously we believe that the parent rather than the government should ultimately be able to make that decision,” DeSantis said.

The governor was also asked if the state will be keeping track of COVID cases in schools, and making that data available.

“I’ll have to ask the Department of Health, in terms of are they are going to do school-based,” DeSantis said.

In the last several days, there has been a back and forth between DeSantis and the Biden administration on masking.

Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said they are not waging war with the governor, but rather with the virus.

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.