Florida County School Board Changes Course Again on Defying Governor’s Ban on School Mask Mandates

By Jannis Falkenstern
Jannis Falkenstern
Jannis Falkenstern
Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Florida.
August 4, 2021 Updated: August 4, 2021

Broward County schools on Aug. 3 again changed course on whether to comply with or defy an executive order by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis which prohibited schools from imposing mask mandates on students.

In a written statement to The Epoch Times, the school board has not changed its policy but “paused it.”

“In light of the governor’s executive order, the district is awaiting further guidance before rendering a decision on the mask mandate for the upcoming school year. At this time, the district’s face covering policy, which requires the use of masks in district schools and facilities, remains in place.”

The School Board plans to discuss next steps at a special meeting on August 10.

Dr. Vickie Cartwright, interim superintendent of Broward County schools is looking into the executive order further.

“The school board is reviewing information and looking for language from our executive rules as a result of the governor’s executive order,” Cartwright said in a video statement.

On July 30, the governor signed an executive order that protects parents’ right to make decisions regarding the masking of their children as a means of protecting them from COVID-19. A month earlier, he signed a bill that protected the parents’ “fundamental right” to make decisions for the upbringing, education, health care, or mental health of their minor children.

“Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children,” DeSantis said.

Initially, the Governor was pleased that the school board had reversed its decision.

“We’re glad to see that Broward Schools reversed its overreach and is now following the science while respecting parents’ rights,” Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times.

“As a general rule, school districts and governments—local, state, or federal—must not infringe on parents’ rights to direct the upbringing, education, health care, or mental health of a minor child,” Pushaw added. “School districts are within their rights to recommend the wearing of masks on their campuses. They just cannot require students to wear masks.”

The Broward County school board initially defied the executive order when it voted unanimously last week to require all students and school personnel to wear protective masks regardless of their vaccination status. The board then reversed its decision and chose to comply with the order, fearing the loss of revenue from the Florida Department of Education.

In a similar action, the school board in Gadsden County, located in north Florida had decided to require masks for students for the coming school year. They too reversed the decision.

The governor’s executive order has caught the attention of Washington. At a recent event in the Everglades where DeSantis was giving updates on water quality issues, he said the White House was blaming him for taking parental rights away from Floridians.

“I think the White House tried to say I prohibited parents from making that decision. It’s just the opposite, we’re empowering them,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday. “Parents can choose how they want to equip their kids for going to school. We believe parents have that right.”

Jannis Falkenstern
Jannis Falkenstern
Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Florida.