Hernando County school board passes mask mandate with parental opt-out

The Hernando County School Board decided to impose a mask mandate for students and staff, however, members stopped short of joining other Bay Area districts in only allowing exceptions for students whose parents provide a medical exemption form. 

During an emergency meeting Tuesday in Brooksville, the school board decided to impose mandatory masks in schools, but provided a carve-out for parental exemptions. 

The school board said parents will be required to fill out a form, which will be provided online starting Wednesday, September 1.

MORE: Sarasota Schools: Licensed medical doctor must sign mask medical exemption form

Before the board made its decision, parents, community members, and even children spoke about why they were for or against requiring masks in schools.

One child, who was against a mask rule, told the school board "we need to fight back."

"I know I am kid, and to be honest, we need to be like Power Rangers and fight back," the boy said. "The CNN and mainstream media are evil."

RELATED: Despite judge’s ruling, Florida threatens more districts over school mask mandates

So far, at least eight other school districts are requiring face masks, including Hillsborough and Sarasota school districts.

On Monday, the state moved ahead with a controversial plan to withhold money from school districts that added mask mandates that go against the governor's ban on mask mandates in schools. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced money will be withheld from the first two districts to violate the governor's orders: Alachua and Broward counties.

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Corcoran says the move is retaliation for districts that implemented mask mandates in schools, which "violates parental rights by not allowing a parent or legal guardian to opt-out their child, as required by Florida Department of Health Emergency Rule 64DER21-12."

The announcement said the withholding of funds would continue monthly until the school boards comply with the emergency rule.

MORE: State to withhold salaries of Alachua, Broward school board members over mask mandates

Corcoran and the State Board of Education also sent a warning letter to the Palm Beach County school district, threatening to withhold salaries of school board members over their mask mandate, reports WPTV.

Last week, a judge ruled that Governor Ron DeSantis' school mask-mandate ban is illegal and unsupported. The judge granted an injunction against the state Board of Education, one of the defendants in the case, because of their enforcement of the executive order. The case is expected to be appealed.