Florida education board to county schools: Allow mask opt-outs or lose funding

The Florida Board of Education gave 48 hours for school districts to comply with orders of ending school mask mandates

The Florida Board of Education announced on Friday that they were giving the Broward School Board 48 hours to comply with Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s executive order to end the mask mandate.

The order is requesting for both Alachua and Broward County school districts to remove their mask requirement. If they refuse, they will face financial penalties. This comes after a unanimous vote by the board, CNN reported.

Parents would require a doctor’s note to avoid these regulations. The State Board of Education will begin withholding 1/12th of annual salaries each month as penalty for violation of the order. The school districts will have to submit a list of salaries. This order will include students being penalized by being sent home or suspended if not within compliance, according to CNN.

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The DeSantis administration confirmed in a statement, “The Florida Department of Education will then begin to withhold from state funds, on a monthly basis, an amount equal to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board members who voted to impose the unlawful mask mandates until each district demonstrates compliance.”

The Broward School Board believes that the mask mandate is set in place to protect the students and staff with the district expecting close to 258,000 back to school this year. So far, only one student and teacher have opted out of wearing masks, Interim Superintendent Vickie L. Cartwright said during a news conference.

“This is something that is needed in order to ensure that we keep our students in our schools,” she said. “We do believe that we are in compliance. There is a process in place for parents who need to opt out.”

In July, DeSantis issued and signed an executive order called The Parents’ Bill of Rights Act, an act that protects the parents’ decision on the wearing of masks for their children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends social distancing and universal indoor masking by all students and teachers no matter their vaccine status.

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Arline Louis, the mother of a Broward County middle school student, spoke exclusively with theGrio about what she would’ve preferred.

“I would have wanted for the students to continue virtual learning until year’s end due to the spike in the Delta variant especially among children,” she said.

Louis says that with the spike at the levels of where it is now, she feels masks should be worn by all staff, faculty, and children until all conditions improve. She does not want the virus to move us back as a society.

“I am extremely concerned about the threats that the governor is making to the various counties in fear of masks being removed. This will put our children and families in extreme jeopardy and set us back to where we were last,” Louis told theGrio.

Many parents that Louis has spoken with also agree that masks should be worn in schools at all times. Louis says that many lives will be lost.

“I’ve considered several options including homeschooling and virtual options, but my child will continue to wear his mask, but I am also hoping that both counties will remain vigilant and continue to enforce the mask mandate.”

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