Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Friday that he will sign an executive order to allow parents to choose whether their children will wear masks to school.
“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 said during a news conference in Cape Coral.
DeSantis said he would not change the state’s position on masking due to efforts by “a movement to try to impose more restrictions on the American people.”
The governor’s comments came after Broward County Public Schools decided to require students to wear masks to begin the upcoming school year.
“There is no way in good conscious that I could bring anybody back into a school environment on the bus, the cafeteria, and not have a mask mandate. That is a moral decision,” Broward School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood said on Wednesday, according to The Hill.
DeSantis was one of the first governors to roll back restrictions during the pandemic and has become known for opposing mask mandates and closures of schools and businesses.
WPLG-TV reported on Friday, “According to the governor, Florida was the only large state in the U.S. to offer full in-person learning last school year and said a study from Brown University found no correlation of case rates and mask mandates at schools.”
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Some critics have challenged the report, especially as the Delta variant of the coronavirus has led to an increase in cases across the nation, including in Florida.
WINK-TV on Thursday reported, “17,589 new COVID-19 cases and 56 deaths, data released Thursday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.”
“Florida was responsible for about one in five new COVID-19 cases reported nationally Wednesday,” the outlet added.
DeSantis sent the Biden administration a powerful message last week, noting that the governor would hold a special legislative session if the federal government were to require masks in schools.
“There’s been talk about potentially people advocating at the federal level, imposing compulsory masks on kids,” DeSantis said, according to WJXT-TV.
“We’re not doing that in Florida, OK? We need our kids to breathe.”
The governor said that he and Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls would hold a special session if the federal government required schoolchildren to wear masks to ensure they will remain optional for Florida students.
“As of right now, all the school districts are going in that direction. But there is going to be, it looks like, a campaign from Washington to try to change that,” he said.
“I’ve talked to Chris Sprowls, if we need to bring [lawmakers] back in to be able to do something from the legislative perspective, he’s all in.”
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