A county in Florida is planning to require masks to be worn in schools in the fall in direct opposition to Republican Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis’s clear position against mask mandates, especially for school children.
During a meeting on Wednesday, the Broward County school board decided that it will require masks when school starts next month, as reported by local outlet WLRN.
According to The Hill, the school board “voted to require indoor masking inside schools, social distancing protocol inside classrooms and seating capacity limits on school buses.”
“I am not looking for us to get ourselves in trouble over this mask issue,” said school board member Donna Korn during the meeting. “There are too many other things that the state has highlighted this district for.”
At the meeting, multiple parents reportedly spoke out against a mask mandate, saying that the masks make it hard for their kids to learn, breathe and be social with other kids.
“I really wanted to start this school year as normal as possible,” said board member Lori Alhadeff, “and a few weeks ago, I thought that we were in a position to go back to school without wearing masks and giving parents a choice.
“But now with COVID soaring, and the Delta variant, a lot has changed,” she said.
Governor DeSantis’s office provided the following information to The Daily Wire:
We had hoped that all school boards would follow the science and decide to have a normal, mask-optional school year. It is disappointing that Broward School Board prioritized virtue-signaling over parental choice, kids’ well-being, and the science.
- The data indicates children face extremely low risk from COVID
- Moreover, empirical evidence from schools last year has shown that the existence of a mask mandate is not correlated with a school’s COVID-19 rate
- Many kids, especially those with special needs like hearing loss, autism, and sensory issues, struggle to learn and engage in a classroom setting with masks. Experts have raised concerns about the impact of masks on mental and emotional health, as well as socialization, speech, and language learning. It is also a concern that masks worn by children for 8 hours a day, taken off and put back on, can harbor potentially harmful bacteria.
As reflected in the Governor’s remarks from July 22, it’s possible that there will be a special session to address the issue of mask mandates in schools. There is also the possibility that it could be addressed by executive order, but no decision has been made yet.
Earlier this week, DeSantis’ office slammed the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask guidelines for K-12 schools.
As The Daily Wire reported, “The CDC revised its guidelines for mask-wearing on Tuesday, announcing that, in light of the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, it was returning to recommending indoor mask-wearing, even for vaccinated individuals, if they are living in areas where COVID-19 cases are spiking. The CDC also recommended that, in order to return to full-time in-person instruction, all individuals in K-12 institutions mask up, even if they are fully vaccinated.”
“It isn’t based in science. There is no indication that areas with mask mandates have performed any better than areas without mask mandates. In fact, this policy could actually backfire,” DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw told Fox News on Tuesday.
“Mandating masks for vaccinated people erodes public trust and confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccines. To me it appears that the government wants to be perceived as ‘doing something’ during a seasonal infection surge, even if their policy does not necessarily make people safer,” Pushaw added.
“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. And so our view is that this should absolutely not be imposed,” DeSantis said at an event on Monday. “It should not be mandated.”
“[I]n Florida, at this point, our school districts have proposed the mask [as] optional,” DeSantis noted. He also went on to say that the Florida legislature is “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.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include information from DeSantis’ office.
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