Florida schools get green light from a judge to mandate face masks
DORAL, FL – Florida schools will now be able to implement face masks mandates for students and staff without receiving any kind of penalty for it.
Just at the beginning of this month, Florida’s Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, announced schools districts that failed to comply with the state’s ban of mask mandates were going to be financially penalized, with Broward County as one of them.
But after Florida Judge from Second Circuit, Judge John Cooper, ruled against Governor Ron DeSantis’s executive order, no school district will be sanctioned.
Such order was issued in late July with the purpose of giving Florida schools parents a choice on whether they wanted their children to wear face masks in class or not amid a new surge of COVID-19 cases due to Delta variant. Back then, the state threatened with withholding funds from districts unwilling to follow the order.
In response to this, Judge Cooper ruled against DeSantis’ order two weeks ago explaining the governor “didn’t have the authority to ban school districts from implementing mask mandates without a parent opt out”, which made the school mask mandates to be on hold while a final decision was being taken. Now, the pause has been lifted.
“It’s undisputed that the Delta variant is far more infectious than the prior version of the virus, and that children are more susceptible to the Delta variant than to the form from a year ago,” Cooper said.
“In particular for children under 12, they cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, there’s really only one or two means to protect them against the virus … either stay at home, or mask.”
The case will now be escalated to the First District Court of Appeal. “They’ll thoroughly consider the arguments of all parties, and they’ll make a decision, then it may or may not end up at the Florida Supreme Court,” Cooper explained.
About Wednesday’s hearing , DeSantis said: “What we have found is, you know, in the trial courts in Tallahassee, state and federal, we typically lose if there is a political component to it. But then in the appeals court, we almost always win…And so I don’t think (the judge) is going to lift the stay … but if it is lifted I am confident that that will be reinstated at the 11th Circuit.”
Just hours after the judge ruled in favor of implementing face masks mandates, Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration filed an emergency motion asking an appeals court to reinstate a stay.
So far, 13 Florida school districts have implemented face-masks mandates without a parent opt out in defiance of the governor’s position.