Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday he will issue an executive order to prohibit school districts from imposing mask-wearing requirements as students return to classes in August.
Scoffing at revised Covid-19 guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DeSantis questioned potential health effects of forcing students to wear masks for hours at a time and said parents should be allowed to decide whether their children use face coverings. There is no evidence that face masks pose a health problem in children.
“If you have been listening to some of the murmurs going around, particularly in Washington lately, if you listen to some of the stuff that’s being percolated around the CDC, there’s a movement to try to impose more restrictions on the American people,” DeSantis said during an event at Two Meatballs in the Kitchen restaurant in Cape Coral. “And I just want to say in Florida, there will be no lockdowns. There will be no school closures. No mandates in the state of Florida.”
The Broward County School Board on Wednesday decided students would be required to wear masks when they return to class, but most districts across the state aren’t expected to make similar decisions.
On Tuesday, the CDC recommended that teachers, students and school staff members wear masks, as Florida and other states are seeing major increases in Covid-19 because of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus. The federal government has not mandated masks in schools.
The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics on Thursday called for the “universal” use of masks in schools. Meanwhile, the state’s largest teachers union issued a statement Friday that supported local decision-making on health and safety issues.
“In a state as large and diverse as Florida, decisions on health and safety will not come in one-size-fits-all solutions, and that is why it is important for the will of the people, as expressed by their locally elected officials, to determine decisions regarding health and safety in schools,” the Florida Education Association said in a statement. “Unfortunately, through his words and actions, Gov. DeSantis has made clear he does not respect the freedom of locally elected officials to do what they feel is best for their communities.”
Similarly, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, who is seeking to unseat DeSantis in 2022, said local officials should have a say in mask decisions.
“The decisions about whether children should wear masks into school, or if you can have some virtual education, ought to be made on a local basis. Not necessarily Tallahassee down, but rather local districts up,” Crist, a congressman from St. Petersburg, told The News Service of Florida. “They know what their situation is, better than anybody.”
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, also running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2022, held a mid-day news conference at the Capitol and accused DeSantis of “pandering to that electorate that is anti-mask and anti-vax.”
“We need to be listening to scientists and to our medical doctors, not our politicians pandering to this pandemic,” Fried said.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Dr. Neil J. Finkler, AdventHealth Central Division’s chief clinical officer, painted a dire picture of the various hospitals in the division, which include AdventHealth Palm Coast, and was clear about the need for mask-wearing in schools. “I’m a clinician and a scientist and from the clinician and the scientist, it’s very obvious to me that people should be wearing masks right now, whether you’re vaccinated or not, in accordance with the CDC guidelines,” he said. “Wearing the mask won’t hurt, but it may help stop the spread of virus. Until we get more people vaccinated, it makes sense to go back to wearing masks in situations where we might be around unvaccinated people. With regards to schools, again, I’m not a politician, but because most young people can’t get vaccinated, we recommend that kids wear masks in schools. We continue to work with our education partners in the community and offer guidance, but again this is all based on scientific evidence, and we’re not the politicians that create the policies.”
In addition to announcing Friday that he will issue an executive order, DeSantis has suggested the possibility of calling a special legislative session to counter any moves by the federal government to require students to wear masks.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, called DeSantis’ plan for an executive order a “decisive action” that has the speaker’s “full support.”
“We’ve come a long way since the start of this pandemic, when a disease we knew so little about threatened to overwhelm our health care infrastructure,” Sprowls said in a statement. “We understand our situation so much more now than then, and with that understanding comes power and responsibility. While there are some public officials who will seek to use the power of government to compel uniformity and adherence to their preferred course of conduct, that approach is not in keeping with Florida values.”
In a separate statement, Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said parents need to be involved when it comes to mask decisions.
“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,” Simpson said.
Florida has been one of the hardest-hit areas of the country by the surge in Covvid-19, accounting for about 20 percent of the cases nationally in recent days. Flagler County this week was on pace to record 700 new infections, almost double the previous weekly high set in January. Almost half the Palm Coast hospital’s beds were occupied by covid patients. School resumes in Flagler on Aug. 10 for students. The district has no plans to alter its protocols, issued earlier this week, that make masks optional. Katie Hansen, president of the Flagler County Education Association, the teachers union, said the union had no plan to push for masks, though it was negotiating other covid-related matters with district officials weekly this coming month.
DeSantis appeared at the restaurant with several parents and teachers who questioned mask requirements and vaccines.
DeSantis said his order, which was not immediately released, will direct the Florida Department of Education and Department of Health to issue emergency rules protecting the rights of parents to make decisions about children wearing masks. He said the order will expand on a new state law that spells out a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” related to education and health care.
“I have young kids. My wife and I are not going to do the mask thing with the kids,” DeSantis said. “We never have. I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun.”
There is no science behind claims, frequently spoken before school boards–including the Flagler County School Board–that masks harm the health of children. One study published on June 30 gained attention for concluding that children were harmed by masks. But the study was retracted two weeks later over poor research methods. Other peer-reviewed studies (here, here, here and here) have shown no deleterious mask effects on children other than discomfort.
–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive
Yeah well mr knowitall 2.0 is going to find out come Election time. Just plain ignorant
Worse Governor ever. Stalin and Trump-like that needs to be in control of everything. Wait until he starts telling you what else you can and can’t do.
Listen to the science,. look at the rates of infections and deaths in your state are at. He never had any control of this issue for the state of Florida and never cared about the people of the state. He just wants those tax dollars to keep rolling in.
Time to toss him to the curb for collection.
Stalin would have made you get the vaccine and wear a mask, no questions asked. He’s (Desantis) openly giving everyone free choice. There is nothing saying someone can’t wear a mask or the vaccine. Science says take your vitamins, exercise, and try not to be a hateful online hero (they all cause inflammation).
Toss him to the curb right next to Biden, Fauci, Harris and company.
Along with Trump and Pence at the bottom of the pile
How many kids are dying from COVID? If I am worried about catching COVID from a kid maybe I can decide to get vaccinated. Maybe teachers that are at risk of dying from COVID can get vaccinated.
The dude says
I’m not concerned about you catching it from my kid. You can choose to get vaccinated or not.
My concern is my kid catching it from you. My youngest cannot get vaccinated.
Baptist Health in Jacksonville reported they had 18 children in the ICU on July 27.
I need to correct my previous statement. 18 in Wolfson’s Childrens Hospital, 6 were in ICU.
What a breath of fresh air. No Pun Intended.
The Voice Of Reason says
Creepy loser. Blood on his hands. What a politically rotten state we live in. Really dumb, gullible voters. desantis, little marco, beady eyed rick scott, mat gaetz. Reptiles one and all. Corrine Brown looks like Mother Teresa compared to them. Nikki Fried for Governor 2022!!!
Bill C says
Funny, I don’t see an MD or PhD after DeSantis’ name, only an R. It seems to me that the resistance to science is not about science at all, but about cultism, the god to be unquestionably worshipped and obeyed is Trump. News flash- after the January 6th insurrection, and the incompetent handling of the Covid pandemic, Trump is finished and flaming down into history as the worst president this country ever had. DeSantis will go down with him, all the while kissing Trump’s ass.
The dude says
Their orange messiah got vaccinated in January.
It hasn’t adversely affected him at all.
He’s still a medically obese, orange narcissistic megalomaniac who compulsively lies.
“I’m not going to make my kids wear masks, I want to see them smiling, having fun”
I wonder what he thinks about this:
“I’m not going to make my kids wear seatbelts, I want to see them smiling, having fun”
The public school system is under attack. There is a push amongst the top rank Republicans to push parents away from public school while pushing them towards private facilities. Our children are the pawns in their game.
Another example of “small government” and “local control” Republicans – only when they want to be.
Live Free or Die. Liberty vs Tyranny
“Those who choose to give up a little liberty for a little safety deserve neither liberty or safety.”
that was 200 plus years ago Welcome to the 21st Century shits gonna be different
Ted Underhill says
Oh Ronny….playing roulette with constituents lives again. Just remember you had a choice to do the right thing rather than having thousands of deaths on your watch. A prime example of party over conscience.
Follow the science not a person that’s looking for votes. The facts don’t lie, Destantis does.
I do not want the government controlling me. Why do people want to rely on the gov’t for every little thing? Take care of yourself and then the gov’t can worry about roads, bridges, and keeping us safe from hostile invaders. I have been vaccinated and THE SCIENCE SAYS antibodies are in my body. If I get infected THE SCIENCE SAYS I will not die, but I can infect others with the variant, get yourself vaccinated and then the government won’t have to tell me what to do and you will not die from COVID.
There’s never been a more “hostile invader” on our homeland than this virus which has killed 620,000 fellow Americans.
shy guy says
I hope at election time he gets SHRUGGED OFF and OUT.
Imagine what the world would be like if the republicans acted this way when polio arrived ???
A person who is unvaccinated and doesn’t wear a mask, is a Potential, and, more likely Probable Victim of their own making of getting Covid and worse, Delta.
A person who is fully vaxxed with 2 shots are far more safe, but the way things are right now with Delta, wearing a mask is just a bit more protection, Covid and Delta isexploding everywhere, and Palm Coast Advent hospital is crowded with the disease and is now on Code Black. Don’t be a Victim—Be a Victor and protect yourself and others as much as possible.
DeSantis is a great governor! Freedom must be protected! Bullies all throughout society trying to tell others what to do. How about eating right, exercising, no drinking or smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and body; thus enhancing your natural strength and immune system? Remember, we are the USA, land of the free. God Bless America.
Sorry but ” How about eating right, exercising, no drinking or smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and body;” will not stop you from getting sick with covid and residing in the ICU. Desantis is only looking for votes, and it appears now is forbidding schools from making students wear mask, buy issuing a mandate 22 hrs ago: ” DeSantis issues executive order to halt school mask mandates
“We don’t have any mandates. We won’t,” the governor declared during a news conference.. “” Spoken like a true politician not a concerned Gov.
Maria Darcy says
Michelle, There are many who agree with you, I am one of them. Sad, that we are no longer allowed to have an opposing opinion.
Thank goodness, You’re right about the intimidation from the other side!
I saw this a few weeks ago,don’t remember where. A person who doesn’t get vaccinated is like a person in their car running a red light. They may get away with it or they could t-bone another car injuring the occupants.
End result is somebody get’s hurt due to the behavior of the person not vaccinated or running the red light.
Remember to vote him out of office. The man is downright scary!!! Protect yourselves and don’t listen to a word of his advise regarding yours or your children’s health!
Your Freedom stops when your actions or INactions start to affect others. Rondon Desantis is a joke and looking for votes. He has handled the C19 terribly. How about getting a vaccine so we can all get our lives back. All the other is null and void if one is infected. Go wave your flag on the corner
DeathSantis has a death wish to kill everyone in his state. If he thinks this is the way to get elected president he has another thing coming because like Trump it will get him a loser on the ballot.
This is not a political issue this is a public health issue which he took an oath on the bible to live up to and he is not doing that.
When businesses start closing again and hospitals in Florida are all filled up because of DeathSantis it will be a good time to file a class action law suit against him. Lets see if Trump will bail him out then, DOUBT IT VERY MUCH.
Jane E K says
Don’t think Trump can bail himself out if honest citizens examine him. Total fraud and very sad because I think that HE THINKS he’s a true patriotic American and “I” truly don’t believe he is. I almost pity him but he’s too, too egotistical to pity.
Even your morally bankrupt leaders on the right took the vaccine..