Covid Update: Florida Judge Rule Over DeSantis in Mask Mandate

TALLAHASSEE — A Florida judge on Friday ruled that the DeSantis administration cannot punish local school districts for passing over mask mandates, connoting a win for parents who fought back against the Republican governor over his hands-off Covid-19 protocols.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper stops the Florida Department of Education from leveling sanctions on school districts that require face coverings by taking the enforcement mechanism out of the DeSantis administration’s mask rules.

The considered victory for parents and school boards, however, could be short-lived as Gov. Ron DeSantis vows to appeal the ruling.

“Yes, parents’ rights are very important,” Cooper said in his ruling. “But they are not without some reasonable limitation.”

The ruling marks the highlighted climax of a high-profile four-day hearing that was symbolic of the local fights simmering over masks amid a surge in new infections.

Some 10 school boards across the state have implemented mask mandates with the governor’s orders, a move that sparked intense anger among parents who do not want their children wearing face-covering at school.

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About half of Florida’s 2.8 million students live in school districts that require to wear face masks in an effort to quell COVID-19 transmission.

DeSantis officials said it was “not surprising” to see Cooper rule against the rights of parents and instead “in favor of elected politicians.”

The state will “immediately” appeal, Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for DeSantis, said in a statement

“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,” Fenske said.

“We are used to the Leon County Circuit Court not following the law and getting reversed on appeal, which is exactly what happened last year in the school reopening case.”

Furthermore, the Florida Department of Education on Friday showed no signs of backing off from the state’s rules against mandatory face masks.

Led by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the agency’s reportedly sent letters to eight school districts warning they were out of compliance with state law in the same vein as Alachua and Broward counties.

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