‘We are not the mask police:’ Brevard sheriff says deputies will not enforce school mandates

Brevard County School Board among several in state with mandate

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – As a legal battle over school mask mandates continues, the Brevard County sheriff said Wednesday that deputies would not enforce mandates on school grounds.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey joined Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials for a news conference in Titusville, where they addressed the federal government’s efforts to investigate “threats of violence” against educators.

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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the FBI to work with local officials to help address a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” toward teachers, administrators and school board members over controversial issues such as mask mandates and the teaching of “critical race theory.”

Ivey said the county does not need the Department of Justice to investigate school board meetings that get “a little bit rowdy” or to investigate “our parents for voicing their opinions to the mask mandate here in Brevard County.”

“It’s outrageous that, trust me, there are plenty of terrorists globally that they can focus on,” Ivey said. “Real terrorists. Terrorists that are out there killing people, each and every day. Not parents who are voicing their opinions and fighting with every breath they have for their children, which everybody in this room would do in a heartbeat.”

Ivey said the county’s school mask mandate is a violation of the governor’s order and “we will not help enforce it in any way.”

“Let me just be very clear: I have made it clear to my school resource deputies, our head of security at the schools, that we are not the mask police. If your child is not wearing a mask, we are not going to engage in any action. We will not,” he said.

The state and several school districts have been in a legal battle over school mask mandates, with Florida proposing last week a long-term rule to try to prevent these mandates and give parents more authority. The proposal is identical to an emergency rule, which generally cannot be in effect more than 90 days, issued Sept. 22 on two key issues: Allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask requirements and allowing children to attend school if they have been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.