The appeals court on Friday, Sept. 6, granted Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) a temporary legal win on his mask mandate ban, bringing the policies back in place, at least for now.
The order issued in late July did not oppose mask-wearing and demanded schools to let parents decide or risk losing their state funding.
Following the reinstatement of the mandated ban, the 13 school districts that have defied the governor’s order will be penalized by the Florida Department of Education, according to Politico.
Alachua and Broward are the only two counties so far disciplined for the ban. “The decision is disappointing, but we understood from the beginning that the legal battle over masks in schools would take time and not every decision would be favorable,” said Carlee Simon, superintendent of the Alachua school district.
The new decision would reverse the Wednesday ruling which allowed schools to proceed on with their mask mandate.
Opponents of the governor’s rule recognized they must ensure all students put their masks on for extra precaution, especially as the Delta had already been rampaging the state.
“We’re not in normal times. We are in a pandemic,” Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper said, per the Associated Press. “We have a (coronavirus) variant that is more infectious and dangerous to children than the one we had last year.”
The 1st District Court of Appeal, however, sided with the governor about respecting parents’ choice.
“These doubts significantly militate against the likelihood of the (parents’) ultimate success in this appeal,” the court said in its ruling.
Politico reported that only Alachua and Broward counties had been sanctioned by the Florida Department of Education for imposing the mandate despite the governor’s order.
“The decision is disappointing, but we understood from the beginning that the legal battle over masks in schools would take time and not every decision would be favorable,” said Carlee Simon, superintendent of Alachua school district, as the outlet reported.
President Joe Biden, known for his trust in what federal health agencies may say about leading the community against COVID-19, had offered to financially aid schools that impose mask mandates.
Holding different views from Republicans who believe in freedom of choice in terms of fighting the pandemic, Biden had recently tightened up his vaccine mandate that could affect more than 100 million Americans.
“I am so disappointed that, particularly some Republican governors, have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” the President said on Friday morning when asked about Republicans challenging his COVID-19 policies.
“We’re playing for real here, this isn’t a game,” Biden noted.