A Florida judge ruled against Gov. Ron DeSantis and allowed schools in the state to mandate masks.
Second Circuit Judge John Cooper’s order is effective immediately and means the state must stop enforcing the banning of mask mandates.
“It’s undisputed that in Florida, we are in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the evidence I’ve heard, there’s no harm to the state if the stay is set aside,” the Judge said.
“It’s undisputed that the Delta variant is far more infectious than the prior version of the virus and that children are more susceptible to the Delta variant than to the form from a year ago.”
Republican Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in July to ban mask mandates in schools. The controversial Governor says that parents should have the right to determine whether they want their children to wear face covers.
Judge Cooper ruled against the Governor’s order two weeks ago, and DeSantis’s office filed an appeal.
“It’s not surprising that Judge Cooper would rule against parent’s rights and their ability to make the best educational and medical decisions for their family, but instead rule in favor of elected politicians. This ruling was made with incoherent justifications, not based in science and facts — frankly not even remotely focused on the merits of the case presented,” a spokesperson for Governor DeSantis said in a statement.
Judge Cooper says that the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations are “the gold standard.”
“I have heard significant evidence concerning the medical and scientific basis for face mask policies, and I conclude this evidence demonstrates that face mask policies that follow CDC guidance at this point in time are reasonable,” Judge Cooper said in his initial ruling.
“In particular, for children under 12, they cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, there’s really only one or two means to protect them against the virus… either stay home or mask.”
Parents in Alachua, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach, and Pinellas counties filed a lawsuit against Governor DeSantis, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, the Florida Department of Education, and the Florida Board of Education over the executive order.
School districts in the states continue to defy the Governor’s order by requiring masks for students. Thirteen school districts in the state require masks.
The Florida State Board of Education said it would cut funding for schools that have issued mask mandates.
“The actions of this school board when they adopted mandatory face coverings in schools is consistent with the Judge’s ruling. We will continue to make the health and safety of students and staff top priority,” Hillsborough County Public School said in a statement to CNN.
Governor DeSantis believes that he will come out on top and that his executive order banning mask mandates will stand.
“What we have found is, you know, in the trials courts in Tallahassee, state, and federal, we typically lose if there is a political component to it. But then in the appeals court, we almost always win,” the Florida Governor said before the ruling. “And so I don’t think (the Judge) is going to lift the stay… but if it is lifted, I am confident that that will be reinstated at the 11th Circuit.”
The case will now go to the First District Court of Appeal.