ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The debate over masks in classrooms continues as school districts that are violating the governor’s ban on mask mandates without an opt-out option now have to defend themselves.
Last week, the Florida Department of Health filed a petition with an appeals court to force schools to follow the rules. Orange County Public Schools, along with the school districts in Broward, Alachua, and Miami-Dade counties, which all have mask mandates, were ordered to respond to the state’s petition by 5 p.m. on Monday.
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith discussed mask mandates in school with News 6 Morning Anchor Justin Warmoth during “The Weekly.”
“We need to do everything that we can to protect our kids, our teachers, and the rest of us from this deadly virus that has already killed 52,000 Floridians,” Smith said.
Smith added districts need to take every precaution to keep schools safe.
“We can’t take any tools off the table to try to mitigate the spread of the disease and mitigate the spread of this deadly virus,” Smith said.
This comes after an appeals court reinstated the governor’s ban on mask mandates for students earlier this month.
Last week, Florida’s new surgeon general issued a revised rule that changes quarantine guidelines. It gives parents the authority to decide whether children go to school after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
“The idea that a parent will now be able to decide as long as their child is asymptomatic whether to send their kid back to school so they can infect others is totally reckless,” Smith said.
Orange County schools’ current mask requirement runs through Oct. 30. Although Brevard County isn’t listed in the petition, last week the district voted to extend its mask mandate without an opt-out option for at least another month.