Florida school board defies DeSantis, sets 90-day mask policy after heated meeting

Some Florida public schools are mandating masks, defying Governor DeSantis

Parents John and Robyn McCarthy explain how the mask mandate affects their immunocompromised son

After an hours-long, often heated meeting Friday, Florida’s Sarasota County School Board voted 3-2 to implement a 90-day coronavirus mask mandate this fall, according to reports. 

The requirement defies a Florida state law that bans mask mandates in schools. Several other school districts have challenged the law with mask requirements but Sarasota is the first country former President Trump won to do so, FOX 13 of Tampa reported. 

During the five-hour meeting, residents and parents decried the district’s “medical tyranny” and said they were “disgusted” and “mad as heck” over a mask mandate, Politico reported.

The meeting had to be paused several times due to outbursts from attendees and some people were removed, according to Sarasota Magazine. 

“So what this is, is it’s literally putting fear in our children and this is stuff that kids cannot overcome,” parent Heather Huddleston told FOX 13 while demonstrating against masks outside of the meeting. 

The only exceptions to the mandate will be a medical exemption or an Individual Education Program and employees and visitors will also be required to wear a mask.

The state has threatened to withhold school board salaries for defiant counties and the Biden administration has offered federal financial assistance to districts requiring masks, according to Politico. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law in July a bill making mask-wearing optional in public schools.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended masks for students under 12 while indoors regardless of their vaccination status. 

Sarasota’s mandate will be lifted if the county positivity rate falls below 8% for three days and would be reinstated if it climbs above 10%, according to FOX 13. The positivity rate Friday was reportedly at 23%. 

“We must mask,” board member Shirley Brown said in the meeting, according to the magazine. “Covid is not over. Covid is worse than it has ever been in our state.”

The emergency meeting came as record numbers of coronavirus patients continue to crowd area hospitals, the magazine reported. 

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