Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed an executive order late this week that allows parents to make the choice of whether they want to have their children wear masks in school, which comes in response to the Biden administration making new recommendations through the CDC about wearing masks in school.
“Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-175, in response to several Florida school boards considering or implementing mask mandates in their schools after the Biden Administration issued unscientific and inconsistent recommendations that school-aged children wear masks,” the governor’s office said in a statement on Friday. “The Florida Department of Health will enter rulemaking in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education to protect parents’ freedom to choose whether their children wear masks.”
DeSantis said at a press conference where he signed the executive order that “the federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day.”
“Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children,” DeSantis added.
The executive order ensures that local school boards “do not violate Floridians’ constitutional freedoms,” “do not violate parents’ right under Florida law to make health care decisions for their minor children,” and makes sure that “children with disabilities or health conditions who would be harmed by certain protocols such as face masking requirements” are protected.
DeSantis hosted a roundtable on masks earlier this week with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University; H. Cody Meissner, MD, pediatrician and the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Professor of Pediatrics at the Tufts University School of Medicine; Mark McDonald, MD; and Dr. David Withun.
“I think our fear is that seeing some of those rumblings, that there be an attempt from the federal level or even some of these organizations to try to push for mandatory masking of school children,” DeSantis said. “It should not be mandated. I know our legislature feels strongly about it, such that if you started to see a push from the feds or some of these local school districts, I know they’re interested in coming in, even in a special session to be able to provide protections for parents and kids who just want to breathe freely and don’t want to be suffering under these masks during the school year.”