Florida Board of Education punishes 8 districts for mask warrants

The political battle in Florida over masks in schools escalated this week, as the state’s Board of Education voted to allow sanctions ag...


The political battle in Florida over masks in schools escalated this week, as the state’s Board of Education voted to allow sanctions against eight local school districts for failing to follow instructions from administration of Governor Ron DeSantis that make masks optional.

The eight districts, whose councils have all voted to require masks in school buildings, could face equal cuts to the salaries of their school board members unless, according to the Tampa Bay Times, they demonstrate within 48 hours that they are in compliance with state ordinances. The districts are found in Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties.

The measure was approved unanimously during a conference call meeting Thursday by the State Board of Education, all of whose members are appointed by Republican governors. The vote came after superintendents in all eight districts argued their mask policies had been effective in curbing the spread of the virus.

After the vote, one of the superintendents, Alberto M. Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, noted on Twitter that there had been “no major outbreaks” in his district and that the cases of students had declined after a peak in early September.

“We do not agree with the recommendation of today’s State Board of Education and believe wholeheartedly that we respect the law, reason and science” he said in a message on Twitter.

Corn the state council said that county school boards had “willfully and knowingly violated the rights of students and parents by denying them the ability to make personal and private decisions about the health care and education of their children.”

Masks in schools have become the focus of a fiercely partisan debate in Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states whose Republican governors oppose mask mandates as an attack on personal freedoms. At the end of July, Governor DeSantis, a possible Republican presidential candidate, signed a decree ask state officials to ensure parents have the power to decide whether children wear masks in school.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that all students, teachers and employees wear masks, regardless of their immunization status. Most masks offer much more protection to others than to the person wearing them, dispersing the expired aerosols that carry the coronavirus to an infected person. Thus, individual masking undermines the protection offered by masks.

President Biden, a Democrat, has openly criticized Republican governors blocking local mask mandates, and the federal Department of Education has started investigate whether such policies in five states violate the civil rights of students with disabilities.

Lawsuits have also been filed in a number of states, including Florida, challenging the ban on mask warrants. In late August, a federal judge said the Florida state constitution allowed school districts to impose strict mask warrants on students, inflicting defeat on Mr DeSantis. The the state asked an appeals court to overturn the decision, which was temporarily suspended pending a final decision.

The Florida School Board on Thursday argued that a “parent’s bill of rights” passed by state lawmakers earlier this year gave parents the exclusive right to decide whether their children should wear masks. The council statement said the law requires districts and schools to “protect the right of parents to make health care decisions such as hiding their children from Covid-19.”

“Every member of the school board and every school principal has a duty to obey the law, whether they approve it or not,” State council chairman Tom Grady said in the statement.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Florida Board of Education punishes 8 districts for mask warrants
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