On Thursday, the Florida Board of Education voted to sanction eight school districts, all of which the Board said implemented mask mandates but wouldn’t let parents opt their children out.
The Board of Education deemed that Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties have not complied with the emergency rule issued by the Florida Department of Health on September 22, which stated:
In order to permit students to continue in-person learning, to minimize the detriment to students and school personnel from the added burden of recurrent removal of students, and to benefit the overall welfare of students in Florida, it is necessary to provide updated emergency guidance to school districts concerning the governance of COVID-19 protocols in schools.
This emergency rule conforms to Executive Order Number 21-175, which ordered the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Education to ensure safety protocols for controlling the spread COVID-19 in schools that (1) do not violate Floridians’ constitutional freedoms; (2) do not violate parents’ rights under Florida law to make health care decisions for their minor children; and (3) protect children with disabilities or health conditions who would be harmed by certain protocols, such as face masking requirements. The order directs that any COVID-19 mitigation actions taken by school districts comply with the Parents’ Bill of Rights, and “protect parents’ right to make decisions regarding masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.”
“As a penalty, Florida Board of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has requested that funds for each district be withheld ‘in an amount equal to 1/12 of all school board members’ salaries,’ in addition to withholding any amount equal to federal grant funds awarded to those districts by President Joe Biden’s administration,” CNN reported.
At the time the emergency rule was issued, Florida GOP governor Ron DeSantis stated:
Parents have the right to have their healthy kids in school. In-person education is important for a students’ wellbeing, their educational advancement, and their social development. The idea that schools are somehow a big problem when it comes to spread of the virus has been refuted yet again. Not only is the forced quarantining of healthy children disruptive to a student’s education, but many folks in Florida are not able to work from home. With this rule, we are following a symptom-based approach to quarantining students in Florida.
State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo added, “The Governor and I share a similar vision of weighing the costs and benefits of public health policies – and our new rule today is an example of that. We must make sure that we are doing what is right for parents and for students. There’s not a single high-quality study that shows that any child has ever benefited from forced quarantining policies, but we have seen demonstrable and considerable harm to children. It’s important to respect the rights of parents.”
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