MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Stating he protects parents’ rights, Gov. Ron DeSantis has doubled down on his stance on banning hiding students in schools.
Speaking at a restaurant in Cape Coral, DeSantis said he heard rumors that the federal government and the US Centers for Disease Control were considering further restrictions.
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“I just want to say that in Florida there will be no blockages, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no terms in the state of Florida. Floridians have been and will remain free to choose what is best for them and their families. We will protect their right to work, protect the right of businesses to operate and we will protect the right of our children to attend school in person, ”said DeSantis.
The governor said very few school districts in the state require masks at school. He said the CDC has been pushing hard for students and staff to wear masks at school during the new school year and that is a mistake.
DeSantis said that during the past school year, many school districts and some private schools required students and staff to wear masks. He said about 20 to 25 school districts haven’t.
“A study at Brown University looked at case rates in schools in Florida, Massachusetts and New York. They found, and this is a very credible study, no correlation between case rates and mask warrants. In other words, you had schools that did not have mandates that had similar results as required, ”DeSantis said.
WATCH: Governor DeSantis press conference in Cape Coral
The governor said that based on last year, these school mask warrants had virtually no impact on the overall shape of the viral curve. He said the recent increase is seasonal.
“The CDC’s own estimate in March was that 41% of K-12 students had already recovered from COVID. If you look at the seasonal wave that we have in Florida, which is driven by a lot of young people, they’re not really sick or anything, but they get it. They will develop immunity as a result of these infections, ”DeSantis said.
The governor said there was no end to what CDC policies would do.
“We were told the off-ramp was vaccination. Now we are told that will not be the case. And yet you will have to mask, you may have to do restrictions and potentially other serious forms of mitigation, which we know will have a devastating impact on the lives, livelihoods and freedoms of so many people. So the policies of the CDC, by doing this in such a clumsy way, by not looking at things like the Brown study, it really shows a complete disregard for the physical, emotional and academic well-being of our children, ”said DeSantis.
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The governor signed an executive order to allow parents to make decisions for their children about wearing masks that would void any school mask warrant.
“We believe that liberty, liberty and personal responsibility are paramount to our democracy and should always be protected, which is why it is essential to trust local governments to make decisions that protect the health care of our children. “Democratic leader Lauren Book said in a statement. “We also believe in science, and the numbers don’t lie: Data shows COVID-19 is increasing in our communities with an increase in hospitalizations of young residents. With 1 in 5 COVID cases nationwide originating in the state of Florida, we urge the governor to stop showing up and start leading. “
The governor’s order goes even further by authorizing the State Board of Education to withdraw state funding from school districts that violate the order.
The Order reads, “If the State Board of Education determines that a district school board is unwilling or unable to comply with the law, the State Council has the power, among other things, to withhold the transfer of funds public funds, discretionary grant funds, discretionary lottery funds, or any other funds specified as eligible for this purpose by the legislature until the school district complies with the law or rule of the State Council and declares the school district ineligible for competitive grants. “
In addition to announcing his executive order, DeSantis suggested the possibility of convening a special legislative session to counter any initiative by the federal government to force students to wear masks.
On Wednesday, the Broward County School Board voted unanimously to make masks mandatory for back-to-school. Initially, the district was on the verge of making mask wearing voluntary, but after the CDC recommended masks for grades K through 12 on Tuesday, most council members agreed that caution was needed.
“The Broward County School Board will review Governor DeSantis’ order in council once it is released and review any adjustments that may be necessary to our face coverage policy,” the district said in a statement.
“We are extremely disappointed that Governor DeSantis chooses not to follow CDC guidelines for a disease as communicable as chickenpox and more communicable than the flu or the common cold. He pleaded for people to get vaccinated. Why is he against masks? BTU will continue to advocate for the wearing of masks by staff and students as the number of COVIDs and hospitalizations increase, ”Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said in a statement.
Miami-Dade Schools said earlier this week that no decision had been made on the masks.
“We haven’t seen the actual executive decree yet. We understand, based on the press conference held by the Governor, that the Governor will seek to protect the rights of parents and provide advice to the State Department of Education and Department of Health on how to enforce these protections. So I look forward to reading the details of this decree. But listen, I’ve been very clear, I believe widespread announcements via an executive order or state law don’t differentiate conditions, which can vary widely from South Florida to Central Florida to the Panhandle. which do not take into account the difference of these conditions. be and the impacts it may have may not be in the best interest of our community, ”said Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent.
The superintendent said a meeting was scheduled with district health advisers on how to proceed.
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The Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics on Thursday called for the “universal” use of masks in schools. Meanwhile, the state’s largest teachers’ union issued a statement on Friday supporting local decision-making on health and safety issues.