DeSantis threatens to withhold funding from school districts who mandate masks

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday aimed at blocking school boards from requiring students to wear masks when the academic year begins in August.

In part, the order directs state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to withhold funds to "noncompliant" school boards that impose mask requirements.

The Republican governor’s order comes after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended that teachers, students and school staff members wear masks, as Florida and other states are seeing major increases in COVID-19 because of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.

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The federal government has not mandated masks in schools.

DeSantis’ executive order requires the state Department of Education and the Florida Department of Health to work together to ensure COVID-19 safety protocols in schools don’t "violate Floridians’ constitutional freedoms" or parents’ rights to make health care decisions for their children.

The order directs the state agencies to protect "children with disabilities or health conditions who would be harmed by certain protocols such as face masking requirements."

Read the full text of the governor's executive order below (mobile users: click here to read)

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The Broward County School Board last week voted to implement a mask mandate for students in the school district, but most other districts throughout the state aren't expected to adopt similar policies. On Monday, Broward school officials said they intended to comply with the governor's order.

The Florida Education Association is opposing the governor’s executive order. 

"Unfortunately, through his words and actions, Gov. DeSantis has made clear he does not respect the freedom of locally elected officials to do what they feel is best for their communities," the statewide teachers union said in a statement.

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