The school district in Broward County, Florida, dropped its mask mandate following an executive order by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that would cut off funding to schools that required masks.
“Broward County Public Schools intends to comply with the Governor’s latest Executive Order,” BCPS said in a statement on Monday.
“Last week, the School Board of Broward County mandated the wearing of masks in our schools to protect our students, staff and community,” it said.
The statement included a call to “strongly encourage” masks to be worn.
“Safety remains our highest priority. The District will advocate for all eligible students and staff to receive vaccines and strongly encourage masks to be worn by everyone in schools,” BCPS said.
“The District will also work to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including frequent cleaning and disinfecting of our schools, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick. The District is continuing to collaborate with our local health organizations to monitor trends in the spread of COVID-19 and variants,” it concluded.
Two days after the BCPS mask mandate announcement, DeSantis signed his executive order.
“The order gave the Florida Commissioner of Education the power to withhold state funds from schools that do not comply with the new policy,” The Hill reported.
“In Florida, there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Cape Coral on Friday.
DeSantis said he would not change the state’s position on masking in response to “a movement to try to impose more restrictions on the American people.”
DeSantis was one of the first governors to roll back restrictions during the pandemic and has become known for opposing mask mandates and the closures of schools and businesses.
WPLG-TV reported on Friday, “According to the governor, Florida was the only large state in the U.S. to offer full in-person learning last school year and said a study from Brown University found no correlation of case rates and mask mandates at schools.”
Some critics have challenged the report, especially as the delta variant of the coronavirus has led to an increase in cases across the nation, including in Florida.
WINK-TV on Thursday reported, “17,589 new COVID-19 cases and 56 deaths, data released Thursday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.”
“Florida was responsible for about one in five new COVID-19 cases reported nationally Wednesday,” the outlet added.
However, despite the rise in cases, July saw the lowest number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States — 5,075 — since February 2020.
DeSantis sent the Biden administration a powerful message last week, noting that the governor would hold a special legislative session if the federal government were to require masks in schools.
“There’s been talk about potentially people advocating at the federal level, imposing compulsory masks on kids,” DeSantis said, according to WJXT-TV.
“We’re not doing that in Florida, OK? We need our kids to breathe.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.