Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appealed a judge’s ruling that the governor overreached and does not have the power to bar school districts from implementing mask mandates.
The notice to appeal filed Thursday by DeSantis’s office said that “the filing in this Notice triggers an automatic stay pending review.” Last week, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper called DeSantis’s order unconstitutional and said he cannot enforce it.
“I have heard significant evidence concerning the medical and scientific basis for face mask policies and I conclude this evidence demonstrates that face mask policies that follow CDC guidance at this point in time are reasonable,” Cooper said.
Earlier this week, the Republican governor said that the state will win its appeal in the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee due to a new state law, the Parents Bill of Rights, that was recently passed.
“We’ll end up getting it back,” DeSantis said of the appeal. “Obviously [Cooper’s ruling], it’s problematic.” Parents, he added, should be “given the ability to opt-out” of mask mandates.
His executive order, which was issued in July, directed the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Health to implement emergency rules that give parents a choice about whether their children should wear masks despite school districts’ decisions to hand down COVID-19 masking mandates.
But Cooper, in his ruling, cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendation for universal masking of children in school even though the CDC earlier this year recommended that only unvaccinated children wear masks. Meanwhile, some studies have shown that children under the age of 18 are the lowest-risk group to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, while other studies found that children don’t play a significant role in the spread of the virus.
A study in March from the CDC found there were more virus-related illnesses in Florida school districts that didn’t implement mask-wearing, although the study found that at the time the instances of school-related COVID-19 cases were small statewide. A Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) study in April discovered that children between the ages of 0 and 9 didn’t “have substantial rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection during school attendance periods,” referring to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus that causes COVID-19, suggesting that “they did not have a substantial role in COVID-19 spread either during this period.”
Outside the studies, some parents speaking at board meetings in Florida and other states have said that mandating children to wear masks in school is tantamount to “child abuse,” although some federal health officials have rejected that assertion.
School boards in 13 Florida districts have since voted to defy DeSantis’ order, citing the spread of the Delta variant in their decision to mandate masks. The Biden administration announced it would provide federal funds for any district that loses money over mask mandates.