Two county school districts in the state of Florida are illegally attempting to subvert rules implemented by Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) that prohibit them from mandating masks for students, as reported by Politico.
The school districts of Alachua and Leon counties are both demanding that students first get written permission from a doctor before they can be allowed to opt out of the mask requirements in schools. Governor DeSantis had implemented rules that ultimately forbid schools from making such a decision, instead leaving that choice up to the parents of each student for all K-12 grades.
Rocky Hanna, the superintendent of Leon County Schools, attempted to defend his actions by claiming that he was doing “what was best for the children here in Tallahassee and Leon County.” Hanna announced the new restriction on Monday, declaring that all students from kindergarten through 8th grade who do not provide a doctor’s note will have to wear a mask, starting Wednesday. Alachua County announced their new rule on Friday, saying that any student who does not want to wear a mask must get a signed form from “a licensed Florida medical doctor, a licensed osteopathic physician, or a licensed advanced registered nurse practitioner.”
Responding to the two counties’ violations of state law, DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw reaffirmed the governor’s belief that “all parents deserve the freedom to choose whether to opt out their own child,” and that “this should not be contingent on their ability to procure a doctor’s note.”
Pushaw also made clear that the state government can take action against such districts that continue violating the students’ rights, noting that “the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly-tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of the law.”
State Democrats have encouraged more lawlessness from school districts, with Democrats from the State Senate sending a letter on Monday to over 300 school board members across the state encouraging them to implement even more mask mandates.
DeSantis has been widely praised for his leadership during the coronavirus, being one of the first governors in the country to end the economic lockdowns that hurt small businesses and slowed the economy as a whole. He has since repeatedly refused to implement more lockdowns and mask mandates, and has frequently stepped in to protect Floridians from local county authorities attempting to implement fines and other restrictions of their own. As a result, Florida has managed to get the pandemic under control within the state, unlike states that continue to lock down such as New York.