- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed an order prohibiting schools in the state from mandating masks.
- Florida schools that implement a mask mandate run the risk of losing state funding.
- The move came days after the CDC recommended that students and staff mask up when they return to classes.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed an executive order Friday that prohibits schools in the state from requiring students to wear face masks when they return to classrooms in the fall.
The executive order, released Friday, is “effective immediately” and directs the Florida Departments of Health and Education to release emergency rules that stipulate that decisions over whether students will be masked in classrooms will be left up to parents rather than school officials.
According to the order, schools that do not comply with the directives from the Education and Health Departments run the risk of losing funding from the state.
“We think that’s the most fair way to do it,” DeSantis said Friday at an event at an Italian restaurant in Cape Coral, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
“The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” DeSantis said in a press release announcing the order.
“Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children,” he added.
DeSantis’ order Friday comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week recommended that students and staff at K-12 schools wear masks in the classroom regardless of their vaccination status, as Insider previously reported.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also this month recommended that students and staff — regardless of vaccinations — mask up in schools this fall.
The CDC guidance came amid a broader shift at the agency, which this week recommended that fully vaccinated individuals mask up indoors in areas of the US with high levels of COVID-19 transmission. The CDC in May said that fully vaccinated individuals could ditch their masks in most settings.
The changes, the CDC said, were due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the disease, which is at least partially responsible for the ongoing surge of cases in the US.
“Information on the Delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that, on rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday. “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”
The US on Friday reported more than 122,000 new cases of the disease, according to data analyzed by The New York Times — the highest single-day increase in more than five months. The state of Florida this week neared its worst COVID-19 week of all time, reporting more than 110,000 new infections over the past seven days, the Orlando Sentinel reported.