Broward County Public Schools has changed its masking policy after Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released an executive order giving parents the power to decide whether their children should wear masks at school.
According to 7 News Miami and The Associated Press, the district put out a statement on Monday.
The online statement said:
Broward County Public Schools intends to comply with the Governor’s latest Executive Order.
Last week, the School Board of Broward County mandated the wearing of masks in our schools to protect our students, staff and community.
Safety remains our highest priority. The District will advocate for all eligible students and staff to receive vaccines and strongly encourage masks to be worn by everyone in schools. The District will also work to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including frequent cleaning and disinfecting of our schools, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick. The District is continuing to collaborate with our local health organizations to monitor trends in the spread of COVID-19 and variants.
Last week, Dr. Rosalind Osgood, chair of the Broward school board, said, “To get the response from the governor today was a little disturbing. However, as a responsible policy maker, from a school board perspective, we have to follow the law.”
During a meeting last week before the governor’s order, the Broward County school board decided that it would require masks when school started 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, several parents reportedly spoke out against a mask mandate, saying that the masks make it hard for their kids to learn, breathe, and socialize with other kids.
Governor DeSantis’s office provided the following information to The Daily Wire at the time:
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.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, “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.”
The executive order makes sure 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 ensures that “children with disabilities or health conditions who would be harmed by certain protocols such as face masking requirements” are protected.