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More than half of FL students enrolled in schools with mask mandates despite threats from DeSantis

More than half of Florida‘s students are enrolled in public schools that will implement mask mandates this coming school year – ignoring Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order to make the face coverings illegal.

Indian River and Sarasota counties joined Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Leon, Alachua, Palm Beach, Orange and Duval in forcing to students to mask up for the coming school year. 

Notably, Indian River and Sarasota counties supported Donald Trump for re-election in November 2020, while the previous counties to establish mask mandates had all supported Joe Biden, according to the Washington Post

According to Florida Department of Education enrollment tallies for 2020-21, the 10 counties combine for about 52 percent of the total school population. There were 2,791,687 students enrolled last year, and the combined enrollment of those counties exceeds 1.45 million, according to The Associated Press. 

The school districts’ policies are in defiance of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ July 30th executive order to protect ‘parents freedom to choose’ whether or not their children had to wear masks in schools.   

Over half of Florida’s students are enrolled in public schools that will implement mask mandates this coming school year, despite attempts by Governor Ron DeSantis to make them illegal

The Republican governor referred to the order as establishing a ‘parent’s bill of rights’ that ‘prevents the state, its subdivisions, or any governmental institution, from infringing on the fundamental rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, or mental health of a minor child without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that such action is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by less restrictive means.’ 

Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, said in an email responding to the mandates: ‘Nobody is above the law, not even school board politicians.’ 

‘There is no empirical evidence to support the assertion that the benefits of forced masking of schoolchildren outweigh the potential harms,’ she added. ‘Masking kids under 12 is not recommended in many EU countries, because their health authorities have found that the risks are not well understood — and the data shows that forced masking of young children has a negligible impact on Covid prevalence and spread.’

However, Nipunie Rajapakse, a doctor and an expert on pediatric infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic, rebuked the claim. 

‘Because of the concerns that have been raised about whether there are any negative effects of masking on children, there have been now numerous studies done,’ she told the Washington Post. ‘These studies have unequivocally shown that there are no negative health effects on children from wearing a mask.’

Exceptions to DeSantis’ order will be made for students with medical conditions covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

DeSantis has threatened to withhold funds from school systems that mask up, though the Biden administration stepped in and allowed the schools to use funds from pandemic relief measures to replace the salaries of staff members. 

Biden has also threatened to sue the state over mask mandates, which DeSantis ripped him for last week

Speaking on Fox News’ Hannity last Wednesday, DeSantis slammed Biden for being ‘obsessed’ with forcing kindergartners to wear masks all day at school.

‘I mean, you gotta wonder, where are your priorities that you’re so obsessed with this issue and so obsessed with taking away parents’ rights?

‘And you’re letting Afghanistan burn, our border burn, and so many other things in our country fall to pieces’, he said.

DeSantis said Biden should focus on Afghanistan, as well as ‘all the stuff at the southern border… one of the biggest border disaster in the history of our country, inflation, gas prices’ instead of mask mandates in Florida.

Speaking on Fox News' Hannity last Wednesday, DeSantis slammed Biden for being 'obsessed' with forcing kindergartners to wear masks all day at school

Speaking on Fox News’ Hannity last Wednesday, DeSantis slammed Biden for being ‘obsessed’ with forcing kindergartners to wear masks all day at school

The Orange County board also said they want to challenge the legality of a Florida Department of Health rule enforcing the ban.   

The highly contagious Delta variant led to an acceleration in cases around Florida and spurred record-high hospitalizations just as schools prepared to reopen classrooms this month. 

By mid-August, more than 21,000 new cases were being added per day, compared with about 8,500 a month earlier. However, new cases and hospitalizations have leveled off over the past week. 

There were 16,820 people being treated for the disease in Florida hospitals Tuesday, U.S. Health Department figures showed, down from a record high above 17,000 last week.

There were 16,820 people being treated for the disease in Florida hospitals Tuesday, U.S. Health Department figures showed, down from a record high above 17,000 last week

There were 16,820 people being treated for the disease in Florida hospitals Tuesday, U.S. Health Department figures showed, down from a record high above 17,000 last week

Counties may have felt emboldened after the Texas State Supreme Court ruled that schools are free to carry on forcing children to wear masks, rejecting Governor Greg Abbott’s latest bid to scrap local mandates.

The court rejected Abbott’s request for an intervention after several counties defied his emergency ban on masking kids.

But Abbott was refused on the grounds of a legal technicality – it must first be appealed in a lower court – meaning he is almost certain to challenge the ruling.

The highly contagious delta variant led to an acceleration in cases around Florida and record high hospitalizations just as schools prepared to reopen classrooms this month

The highly contagious delta variant led to an acceleration in cases around Florida and record high hospitalizations just as schools prepared to reopen classrooms this month

About 6 in 10 Americans say students and teachers should be required to wear face masks while in school, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

DeSantis has urged Floridians to get vaccinated, and said people should continue to wear masks if they want to – but that no one should be forced to don the face coverings.

Children under 12 cannot yet receive COVID vaccines. Pro-maskers say the coverings are needed to keep them safe, but those opposed say children rarely get seriously-ill with the virus.

The state said 16,820 people were hospitalized on Tuesday, down from a record of more than 17,000 last week

The state said 16,820 people were hospitalized on Tuesday, down from a record of more than 17,000 last week

DeSantis has urged Floridians to get vaccinated, and says people should continue to wear masks if they want to - but that no-one should be forced to don the face coverings

DeSantis has urged Floridians to get vaccinated, and says people should continue to wear masks if they want to – but that no-one should be forced to don the face coverings


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