DORAL, FL – Broward County is among the school districts that will be financially penalized for enforcing mask mandates together with Alachua County. Miami-Dade Schools has also implemented a mask mandate but still hasn’t been penalized.
The decision announced by Florida’s Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, means school board members in both counties will not be getting salaries from the Department of Education this month.
Not allowing parents to make the decision of choosing whether or not to send their kids to schools with masks is the reason behind withholding funds for said school districts.
“We’re going to fight to protect parents’ rights to make health care decisions for their children,” Corcoran said in a statement. “They know what is best for their children.”
It also has to do with the fact that mask mandates defy an order previously made by Governor Ron DeSantis in which this is banned. However, in a recent court ruling DeSantis’s ban on mask mandates was declared unconstitutional.
Last Friday, judge John Cooper ruled in favor of parents who sued, arguing DeSantis “overstepped his authority in forbidding the face covering requirement and said it cannot be enforced”.
But despite the financial penalties both counties have announced they will continue enforcing mask mandates among their school communities, only not applied to those who have a medical exemption from a doctor.
“The health and the safety of our students, teachers, and staff continues to be our highest priority,” Interim Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said. “As such we will continue to mandate the mask knowing that our data, as we are looking at it, our quarantine data, is demonstrating that the use of the mask is helping to minimize the spread of Covid-19.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is monitoring Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona, states that have banned mask mandates. They said they will take action “if state leaders prevent local schools or districts from implementing universal indoor masking or if the current court decisions were to be reversed,” reported NPR News.
Currently, the office said they won’t open investigations in those states because the bans on universal indoor masking are not being enforced as a result of court orders or other state actions.
Besides Broward, Alachua and Miami-Dade, other counties that have implemented mask restrictions include Orange, Duval, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Palm Beach, Indian River and Leon.