Local education leaders respond to state pressure against face mask warrants

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – In support of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ July 30 executive order, the State Board of Education announced on Friday that members had adopted emergency measures to “protect” children whose parents believe they will be ” injured ”by face mask warrants or stay-at-home guidelines.

During the 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic, infectious disease experts have consistently recommended the two public health measures. The State Board of Education has approved an emergency rule to allow vouchers for private schools for parents who feel their children are being harassed by a school district’s safety rules.

“It doesn’t make sense to do this and not implement the most minor protections,” said Matthew Dietz, director of litigation for the Disability Independence Group in Miami.

The Florida Department of Education has also threatened to withhold “state funds, discretionary grant funds, discretionary lottery funds, or any other funds” from school districts with face mask warrants designed to protect teachers’ health. and students during the new wave of COVID cases.

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“So if we’re in an emergency let’s be in an emergency, but we can’t choose and play with people’s lives and play games with rule making,” said Rosalind Osgood, President of the Broward County School Board.

The priority at the state council meeting was not to find ways to implement the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This was to protect “parental freedom of choice” through the state’s Hope scholarship program, which provides victims of bullying in public schools with access to private education.

The Broward Teachers Union and United Teachers of Dade have both opposed DeSantis’ executive order, actions taken by the Florida Department of Education to support it, and legislative efforts to get taxpayers to fund education for profit.

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“We will continue to let our parents know that our children should not be political propaganda. That this is not the right way, ”said Karla Hernández-Mats, president of the United Teachers of Dade.

The Broward County School Board agreed to implement a face mask mandate starting Aug. 18 before DeSantis signed its executive order. The Miami-Dade County School Board has yet to decide whether or not there will be warrants starting August 23.

Opposition to DeSantis’ order upset President Joe Biden who raised the issue earlier this week in a speech asking him to “step aside”. DeSantis hit back at a press conference saying he wasn’t going to do it.

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