Florida schools will be allowed to impose mask mandates according to a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper. This ruling goes against Governor Ron DeSantis' July 30 Executive Order (EO), giving parents a choice regarding masks for their children in schools.
A group of eight parents filed a lawsuit against DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, and the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Board of Education, seeking to overturn DeSantis' executive order. DeSantis has said he will appeal the decision.
Parents' Bill of Rights/FLA/HB241
DeSantis' EO states that the debate over masks as to whether they are harmful to children is ongoing. As a result, the freedom to decide should be left with parents. UncoverDC wrote an article on masks and their efficacy.
Experts like Kristen Megan Kelly, a Sr. Industrial Hygienist in the field of Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, has spent years certifying hospitals and testifying in court cases related to environmental health threats—including viruses. She is an expert on the proper use of masks and their efficacy. Kelly maintains that the masks, or PPE, being worn in community settings provide little to no protection against the virus, nor do they prevent the spread of the virus. Destruction and dilution, she says, are the primary ways to make school environments safer from germs.
In the video below, Industrial Hygienist Tammy Clark joined Kelly to speak before a school board on the subject of aerosolized respiratory infectious diseases.
H.B. 241 specifies several ways governmental and health officials must ensure the consent of parents with regard to their children's health. The law also specifies that administrative fines and disciplinary action will result if the law is violated. The law also requires schools to notify parents of "comprehensive health education" that "relates to sex education or instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome education or any instruction regarding sexuality." Parents have the right to remove their children from those programs and must submit the objection in writing. The law also stipulates that parents may exempt their children from immunizations.
AP reported, Craig Whisenhunt, the attorney for the parents filing the lawsuit, told the judge DeSantis is endangering lives by not allowing school boards to make their own decisions regarding the use of masks—especially since the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending masks for school children.
Whisenhunt told the judge in the online hearing:
"Despite that reality, despite all of the science, the governor has sought to insert himself into matters of local health concerns and impede the ability of school boards to do what they are constitutionally mandated to do, which is to operate and control their schools."
The Judge has not yet written his order. However, NBCMiami6 reported:
"He granted an injunction against the education commissioner, Department of Education and the state Board of Education, prohibiting them from violating the Parents’ Bill of Rights (PBOR) by taking any action to effect a blanket ban on face masks mandates."
"He also enjoined them from enforcing the executive order and the policies it generated which violate the PBOR by not giving districts an opportunity to show its actions are reasonable."
NBCMiami6 also quoted the judge's reasoning on the DeSantis EO:
"The government can adopt such a policy if such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that such action is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by a less restrictive means.
It doesn’t ban mask mandates at all, he said. What it does do is say if someone disagrees with a policy that’s been adopted then they can bring an authorized proceeding or review to say to the school board show me how this [is] reasonable.
It does not authorize the (defendants) to say to the schools. You cannot adopt a blanket face mask policy unless it has a parental opt-out. What it does say is if you do that, it has to be reasonable, support a state purpose, be narrowly drawn and not be accomplished by other means.
The defendants do not have the authority under this law unless they give the school board the due process rights granted by the legislature to showing its action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest, narrowly tailored and not served by less restrictive means.
This key issue, Cooper said: Whether people's rights not to have their children wear a face mask for 30 to 60 days outweigh the risk of not wearing a mask places other children in to catching a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease, even for children.”
Many schools in the U.S. are offering Mask Opt-Outs for parents. Some counties, like Broward, which has Florida's second-largest district, are not. Redefinedonline.org compiled a list of school districts and their masking policies. Both public and private schools, as well as lower and higher education institutions are listed. Notably, in some cases, doctors are named detailing how many exemptions they wrote and for what reason. There are indications that the documentation may be used against the doctors.
Redefinedonline/list of schools with mask mandates/Aug. 20
When Governor Lee of Tennessee announced he would allow mask opt-outs but then received a letter from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, wrote a letter stating that:
"This State-Level action against science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 appears to restrict the development of local health and safety policies and is at odds with the school district planning process embodied in the U.S. Department of Education interim final requirements."
The letter suggested that funding (The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) is linked to how compliant a school district is with federal health requirements. The final sentence in the paragraph dictates that safety recommendations include the "universal and correct wearing of masks" in schools.
Notably, in his Aug. 25 press conference, Lee aggressively pushed both vaccines and masks.