By: Charley Gilewicz
On Wednesday, September 8th, a Florida judge ruled that Florida must immediately stop enforcing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on school mask mandates.
Florida schools reopened for full in-person learning last month, and consequently, the state saw a spike in Delta Variant cases, which in turn caused more hospitalizations and deaths daily.
DeSantis signed an executive order on July 30th, which stated that “masking children may lead to negative health and social ramifications” and allowed the parents to decide if they want their children to wear masks or not.
Many districts in Florida have defied this, creating mask mandates with an opt-out strictly for medical reasons. DeSantis then threatened to withhold teacher salaries and school funding from the districts that enforced wearing masks.
Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper mentioned that the Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommends students and staff to wear masks, saying that it’s the “gold standard.”
“We are not in normal times. We are in a pandemic. We have children that can’t be protected by vaccination,” Cooper said in court. “Children are at risk and they [masks] provide at least some protection by masking [the virus].” The FDA currently has not approved a vaccine for children 12 and under.
This ruling didn’t occur without any pushback, however, as Florida filed an appeal within hours, seeking to reinstate a stay as the court decides what their final decision will be.
Cooper’s ruling Wednesday currently allows school districts freedom to require masks for students and staff. Cooper says it’s unusual to lift the stay during an appeal, but, after all, “we are not in normal times.”