BCPS Rescinds Mask Mandate After DeSantis Threatens to Pull Funding

Sheri-Kae McLeod

broward mask mandate
Joann Marcus of Fort Lauderdale, left, cheers as she listens to the Broward School Board's emergency meeting, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A small but vocal group spoke vehemently against masks, saying their personal rights were being eroded and their children were suffering socially. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Broward County Public Schools has withdrawn its mask mandate for students after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatened to withdraw funding from districts that imposed such a policy. Just last week, the school board voted to impose a mask mandate for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status.

The announcement was met with protests by some parents, who did not approve of the policy.

“These kids are not affected [by COVID-19]. Please stop the insanity. You have already done damage to these kids by having them wear masks. Masks are a petri-dish that they’re forced to inhale six hours a day. Make masks optional or you stand to lose plenty of enrollment and it won’t end there because trust me, you’ll be voted out,” Vivian Hoge said at a school board meeting on July 27, with her two masked daughters by her side.

Following the announcement, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order preventing mask mandates in schools. The order threatens to withhold state funding from schools that implement one. DeSantis said mask mandates for children do not take into consideration their physical and mental well-being and parents should be the ones to decide if their children wear masks.

“I think that this decision about whether parents want their kids to have to wear masks all day at school, I think that’s a decision that falls squarely within the concord of this Parents’ Bill of Rights that I signed,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Cape Coral on July 30.

Broward County Public Schools later released a statement saying that it intends to comply with the governor’s latest executive order. The district says it will advocate for all eligible students and staff to receive vaccines and will also work to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The district also strongly encourages masks to be worn by everyone in schools.

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