Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on July 30 issued an executive order to block mask mandates in schools.
The Republican governor said his order lets parents exercise their right to decide for their own children whether they should wear masks.
School districts in two Florida counties—Broward and Gadsden—had previously issued mask mandates for students, effective when classes start in August. Their mandates came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all students, teachers, and staff wear masks indoors regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated.
But DeSantis has made his stance firm on mask requirements. In a speech in Cape Coral announcing the executive order, he said, “There will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida.”
Florida parents, students, elected officials, and community leaders attended the event.
“The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” DeSantis said in a statement. “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.”
A statement from DeSantis’s office says the order is “in response to several Florida school boards considering or implementing mask mandates in their schools after the Biden Administration issued unscientific and inconsistent recommendations that school-aged children wear masks.”
The order directs the Florida Department of Health to enter rulemaking in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education to bar any mask mandates. DeSantis’s office said the move is consistent with HB 241 (Parents’ Bill of Rights), signed into law on June 29, which sets out the rights parents have in their child’s education, upbringing, and health.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, the Florida Department of Education said that “Parents know what’s best for their children and should be empowered to make their own choices with regards to masks.”
The statement continued, “At this time, additional information will be forthcoming once the Florida Department of Education collaborates with the Florida Department of Health to satisfy the requirements of the Emergency Order.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
This article has been updated with a statement from the Florida Department of Education.