Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on Friday, July 30, signed an executive order that forbade schools from imposing a mask requirement, leaving the option up to a parental decision.
“In Florida, there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida,” DeSantis introduced the order in a speech in southwest Cape Coral.
Following the order, county school boards in Florida may not make students wear facial masks when they return to school in August. He said it’s up to parents to determine what is best for their kids.
“I’ll be signing an executive order which directs the Florida Department of Education and the Department of Health to issue emergency rules protecting the rights of parents to make this decision about wearing masks for their children,” DeSantis said, according to Wesh.
Counties that fail to comply with the new law will lose their state funding.
DeSantis’ move came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this Tuesday updated new COVID-19 guidance that recommended all K-12 students wear face masks no matter if they were vaccinated or not.
For the past week, Florida has averaged more than 14,000 new COVID-19 cases every day, making it one of the country’s new virus hotspots, particularly for the highly contagious Delta strain.
The CDC, throughout this week, has constantly reported that the Delta version of the CCP Virus is too lethal and spreads rapidly even with vaccines in place. Therefore, they thought inoculated citizens should further put masks on their faces for better protection.
After new guidance was updated, many areas across the United States had already started to reinstate mask mandates.
But not everyone was convinced that the facial garments could offer much protection, such as a handful of House GOP lawmakers who resisted the resumed mask mandate in the House, saying it was “unscientific.”
Some studies have also alleged that constantly wearing face cloth could lead to harmful outcomes. Others claim the simple piece of garment cannot provide any protection from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
While the debate whether or not masks could offer any practical help in hindering the spread of the Delta variant remains unsettled, Herald-Tribune said DeSantis thought the mandate was a “movement to impose more restrictions on the American people.”
Reactions to DeSantis’ new executive order that makes masks voluntary in school settings are mixed.
“When it comes to masking mandates in our schools, parents need to be involved in the decision for their children,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson, as the outlet reported. “I trust Florida parents to evaluate all of the information available and make the best decision about whether or not their children will be wearing a mask when they return to school next month.”
Critics such as President of the Florida Education Association Andrew Spar thought local officials should have the right to decide what is best for their residents “based on their unique needs and circumstances.”
“Gov. DeSantis continues to think that Tallahassee knows best what all Floridians need,” said Spar. “We reject that kind of thinking.”
DeSantis’ order does not mean masks are eliminated from state school campuses. If parents believe their child should wear facial coverings, the state of Florida will not interfere.