Florida's second largest school district backpedaled its mask mandate on Monday after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order threatening to withhold funding from schools that violate parents' personal decisions regarding face coverings for their children.
The Republican governor issued the new directive on Friday that forbids districts throughout the Sunshine State from violating "constitutional freedoms," infringing on parental rights and ignoring "disabilities or health conditions" that would preclude a student from wearing a mask.
The order specified that any infraction could result in "withholding state funds from noncompliant school boards."
Broward County Public Schools said it "intends to comply with the Governor’s latest Executive Order" in light of the consequences.
"Safety remains our highest priority," the school system added. "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."
A day prior to DeSantis's executive order, Broward County Public Schools instituted its face covering mandate, despite the governor's outspoken opposition to the move. School board member Lori Alhadeff said she previously wanted to make the fall semester "as normal as possible," though she and others reneged on the issue when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance that said U.S. residents, regardless of vaccination status, should don masks in a number of situations after the government body indicated the same individuals need not wear face coverings in the weeks prior.
Last week, DeSantis attended a roundtable discussion on the issue and said the imposition of face covering requirements should not be tolerated.
"Our view is that this should absolutely not be imposed. It should not be mandated," he said.
Concerns over the delta variant have led numerous businesses, localities, and other entities to reinstate mask mandates and require vaccinations. In one of the most drastic shifts, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that restaurants and gyms will require inoculation documentation in the boroughs as part of the "Key to NYC Pass," which will launch on Aug. 16.
Over the last two weeks, cases have risen 142% as hospitalizations jumped 83% and deaths rose 27% nationwide.
Approximately 50% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, while 58% have received at least one dose. On Monday, the country reached a milestone when 70% of the adult population were fully inoculated against COVID-19.
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Original Author: Jake Dima