Hillsborough judge hears arguments in case against school district's mask policy

A Tampa attorney is taking on Hillsborough County Public Schools' mandate for students, teachers and staff to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

During a virtual hearing Tuesday, Patrick Leduc challenged the rule on behalf of several plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against the district.

Leduc says whether students wear a face covering at school is a decision that should be left to parents, not school administrators.

During the hearing, Leduc said the districts' mandate is tantamount to the district telling parents, "we love your children more than you."

"We have the power to dictate to you, parent, what we think is in your child’s best interest," Leduc mocked.

He also questioned why the mandate allows students to take off their masks during the lunch hour.

"So, does that mean COVID takes a break for an hour?" he challenged, holding up a surgical mask while arguing face coverings do not provide protection against spreading or contracting the virus.

RELATED: Biden calls for nationwide mask requirement, but would Florida issue a mandate?

The school district’s attorney, Jason Margolin disagreed. He called Leduc's lawsuit meritless and wants it thrown out. 

Margolin says the science is on his side.

"It is also well-established that face coverings and social distancing have been proven to minimize the transmission of, the exposure of COVID-19," he explained.

Margolin told Hillsborough County Judge Martha Cook the district is closely following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommend facial covering to protect the wearer and others from spreading the virus.

He says kids can spread it too.

"There’s no dispute that children, like adults, can and do spread the virus. We cited to court several studies on this point including from the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC guidance," said Margolin.

MORE: Appeals court rejects GOP chairman's challenge to Leon County mask mandate

Both attorneys cited studies backing up their claims. It’s the mask debate happening all over the country and now a Tampa judge has a weighty decision to make.

Judge Cook says she will rule before Christmas.


Pinellas sheriff deploying deputies to remind businesses to follow mask requirement, social distancing

Law enforcement officers across Pinellas County will be reminding business owners to follow the county's mask ordinance and social distancing rules.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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Appeals court rejects GOP chairman’s challenge to Leon County mask mandate

An appeals court has tossed out a challenge by the Leon County Republican Party chairman to a county requirement that people wear face masks to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19.