Florida Governor Opposes Masks in Schools as COVID Cases Rise

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a private meeting Monday with doctors to oppose mask mandates in public schools.

DeSantis said he fears that the federal government might try to force mask mandates in schools, saying children would suffer. On Tuesday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

“Our view is that this should absolutely not be imposed. It should not be mandated. And I know our Legislature feels strongly about it,” said DeSantis. He predicted lawmakers would hold a special session “to be able to provide protections for parents and kids who just want to breathe freely and don’t want to be suffering under these masks during the school year.”

Florida accounted for a fifth of the nation’s new coronavirus infections last week, more than any other state, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But DeSantis has been firmly opposed to lockdown restrictions, mask mandates and vaccine passports, signing a bill into law that prevents businesses to ask for proof of vaccination and local governments from imposing COVID restrictions.

In South Florida, the Broward County school board postponed a meeting Tuesday about whether students should wear masks in the classroom this fall when about 20 anti-mask protestors refused to don them. Board spokeswoman Kathy Koch told the South Florida SunSentinel that everyone who visits the district’s headquarters is required to wear a mask.

“Most of them said they had a medical waiver, but you cannot prove it nor can you ask for it,” Koch said. So for the safety of everyone, the discussion was rescheduled for Wednesday.

The delay angered the protestors, who called on DeSantis and the state government to override any mask mandate imposed by Broward or others school districts.

“We need a special session of the state Legislature to ban this kind of crap right now,” said Chris Nelson, 38, founder of the anti-mask group, Reopen South Florida.

Meanwhile, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers on Tuesday requested all state courts suspend in-person appearances for non-essential hearings and revert to virtual court sessions.

“We are extremely concerned about the uptick in positive coronavirus cases throughout the state,” said Jude Faccidomo, the association’s president.

The association’s request came the same day the Miami-Dade courthouse said four people who had been in multiple courtrooms over the past two weeks tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, the town of Palm Beach announced Monday it has reinstated its facial covering policy for everyone — including the vaccinated — inside town-owned buildings.

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