Florida officials are threatening to withhold funds equal to the salaries of school board members if school districts in two counties don't immediately do away with strict mask mandates as the state continues to battle through high hospitalization rates. School boards in Broward and Alachua counties received a warning Friday from the state Board of Education giving them 48 hours to walk back their decisions requiring masks for all students, only exempting kids with a doctor's note, the AP reports. "We cannot have government officials pick and choose what laws they want to follow," said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran in an emailed statement.
Corcoran says the districts in those two areas are violating the Parents' Bill of Rights and a late July executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis that prompted rules limiting how far districts can go with mask requirements and other COVID-19 measures. Legislative data show school board members in Alachua County make $40,000 per year and in Broward County, $46,000. The order establishes the punishments for all four members in Alachua and eight of nine school board members in Broward. Florida, meanwhile, is adding an average of about 20,300 new COVID-19 infections per day, says the CDC. (The school board of the state's largest district in Miami-Dade passed a measure this week requiring masks for all students and only exempting those with a doctor's note.)