On July 31, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an order saying that mask mandates could not be enforced in schools in Florida. As some school districts have not been planning to follow this scientifically flawed order, the administration followed it up with a treat of a possibility that the administration withhold the salary of those district officials who enforce a mask mandate, on Monday.
On Monday, the governor released a statement to CBS Miami which stated that school board officials could face “financial consequences” if they enforced mandates that forced students to wear masks.
Florida is facing a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 due to the spread of the delta variant. School superintendents are unhappy with this latest statement from the administration. As this latest salvo in terms of individual liberty of parents over the greater good of the school has been fired, some district officials have bravely stood up to it saying that they would not allow their decisions to be influenced by a paycheck.
Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade County Public Superintendent sent a statement to CBS Miami which stated that they would consult public health experts before making a decision on whether students have to wear masks and a threat to his “paycheck” would not influence his decision. Monday night Carvalho tweeted that “threat-laced humiliation” had not served and would not serve humanity well.
According to the Washington Post Superintendents of two Florida school districts: Leon and Alachua counties have said that parents would have to submit a doctor’s note that would explain the reason for which their child would not wear a mask to school. Superintendent Rocky Hanna of Leon County said that one couldn’t put a “price tag on someone’s life including my salary.”
Andrew Spar, president of the state’s teacher’s union, the Florida Education Association said that the governor was “playing the politics of division.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, who is a GOP senator as well as a physician, told CNN that the local official should have control on the situation. He added that if a hospital was full, and the vaccination rate was low and the infection rate was going crazy then the local officials should “make those decisions best for their community.”
Florida is seeing among the highest number of COVID-19 cases across the nation. There were 13,596 new cases among children below the age of 12, as per data from the Department of Health (DOH) in Florida, on Sunday. The case positivity is 20.5 percent which is higher than the Sunshine State’s overall state positivity of 18.9 percent while the case positivity among the 12-19 age group is 24.3 according to DOH data released on Friday.
Image Author Gage Skidmore