Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday issued an executive order to block mask mandates in schools.
The governor said his order lets parents exercise their right to decide for their own children whether to wear masks.
School districts in two Florida counties—Broward and Gadsden—previously issued mask mandates for students, effective when classes start in August. Their mandates came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all students, teachers, and staff wear masks regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
But DeSantis has made his stance firm on mask requirements. In a speech in Cape Coral announcing the executive order, the Republican governor said “there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida.”
Florida parents, students, elected officials, and community leaders attended the event.
“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 statement. “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.”
A statement from DeSantis’s office states that the order is “in response to several Florida school boards considering or implementing mask mandates in their schools after the Biden Administration issued unscientific and inconsistent recommendations that school-aged children wear masks.”
The order directs the Florida Department of Health to enter rulemaking, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education, to bar any mask mandates. DeSantis’s office said that the move is consistent with HB 241 (Parents’ Bill of Rights), signed into law on June 29, which sets out the rights parents have in their child’s education, upbringing, and health.
The Epoch Times has contacted the Florida Department of Education for comment.
Reuters contributed to this report.