The Broward County School Board has become the latest in Florida to defy the state’s mask mandate ban, voting on Tuesday to keep the requirement for students and staff.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold the pay of superintendents and school board members who defy his executive order barring schools from issuing mask mandates. After listening to 48 public speakers and reviewing more than 350 written comments from local residents, the board voted 8-1 to keep the mask mandate in place, allowing exceptions for health and safety concerns only, according to a news release from the school division. Broward County schools started school Tuesday.
“You can’t ignore this pandemic. It’s deadly, and it’s getting worse instead of better and the more we don’t use masks, the more we position the mutation of this virus to grow,” said Rosalind Osgood, school board chair, during the special board meeting Tuesday. She later told CNN she’s not willing to “risk and play Russian roulette” with children who can’t get vaccinated.
Requests to opt out of the mask mandate “will be considered due to medical needs, Individual Education Plans or Section 504 accommodations,” the school division news release said. Broward County’s decision goes against the executive order signed by Governor De Santis, which allows parents, not schools, to decide whether their children should wear a mask. “It’s safe to assume that the decision by Broward school board members to violate parents’ rights to make decisions for their own children will result in a similar response,” the governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, told CNN.
The governor’s office Monday said the state’s Board of Education could move to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who disregard the governor’s executive order. “The fact of the matter is that parents are in the best position to know what’s best for their kids,” DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday. “Our policy, based on the parents’ bill of rights, is this is the parents’ decision under Florida law at this point.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: MIAMI HERALD
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