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School District Reverses Mask Mandate After DeSantis Order

Florida threatens to pull funding from schools that require face coverings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2021 9:35 AM CDT
School District Reverses Mask Mandate After DeSantis Order
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the American Legislative Exchange Council on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(Newser) – A South Florida school district that voted last week to require facial coverings has reversed itself after Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to cut funding. With coronavirus caseloads surging as the much more contagious delta variant spreads infections, the Broward County school board unanimously voted last week to require students, teachers, and staff—even those who are vaccinated—to wear facial coverings inside schools when classes begin Aug. 18. However, the Republican governor then signed an order empowering the state's Board of Education to withhold funding from districts that enforce a mask mandate, per the AP. DeSantis said he wants parents to decide whether their children should wear a mask to school. He also claimed the outbreak is seasonal, caused by people gathering indoors to avoid Florida's heat and humidity.

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"Broward County Public Schools intends to comply with the governor's latest executive order," says the district statement, released Monday afternoon. The district now says it will encourage, but not require, facial coverings. It also will encourage students ages 12 and older, as well as teachers and staff, to get vaccinated. Florida now leads the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19. On Monday, Florida had 10,389 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the hospital association. That's almost 200 more than Sunday, when the state broke the previous record set on July 23, 2020, more than a half year before vaccinations started becoming widespread. It then had 10,170 hospitalizations.

(Read more Florida stories.)

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