After hours of extensive deliberation, school board members in Palm Beach, Florida voted 6-1 to require all students and staff wear masks on school grounds beginning next week, defying Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates.
Late Wednesday evening, Palm Beach County School Board members voted to amend the School District of Palm Beach County’s COVID-19 protocols for students.
Under the approved policy, which goes into effect Monday, parents can no longer opt their children out of wearing facial coverings inside schools and on school district transportation.
Three major Florida school districts have defied Gov Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates
After hours of extensive deliberation, school board members in Palm Beach, Florida voted 6-1 to require all students and staff wear masks on school grounds beginning next week
Exceptions will be made for students with medical conditions covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The new policy is a direct defiance of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ July 30th executive order to protect ‘parents freedom to choose’ whether or not their children had to wear mask in schools.
On Thursday morning, DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw released a statement to WPTV about the Palm Beach County School Board’s decision, saying ‘the forced masking of schoolchildren infringes upon parents’ rights to make health and educational decisions for their own children.’
Pushaw continued: ‘No politician is above the law, even the Palm Beach County school board members. It is disappointing that the school board chose to change their mask policy — which had previously protected the freedom for parents to opt their kids out, in compliance with Florida law.’
Dr Rosalind Osgood, who heads the Broward County School Board, appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday to defend her district’s decision to defy Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates, saying: ‘We believe that we have a constitutional obligation to protect the lives of our students and staff’
However, Palm Beach is not the first jurisdiction of Florida to defy DeSantis’ executive order on mask mandates.
It joins Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, and Alachua counties in mandating masks without an opt-out provision.
Last week, the chairwoman of a Florida school board has defended the decision to defy Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates after three teachers in the district died from COVID-19 amid an influx of Delta variant cases.
Dr Rosalind Osgood, who heads the Broward County School Board, appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation last week, saying the area is ‘living out the nightmare of the COVID pandemic, where so many people in our county, including members of our staff and others, are being impacted.’
Her comments come days after the school board imposed a mask mandate for students, staff and visitors. However, a doctor’s note is required for student exemptions.
‘We believe that we have a constitutional obligation to protect the lives of our students and staff,’ Dr Osgood said.
As Florida’s cases continue to soar, the state reported a seven-day rolling average of 21,706 new cases daily on Saturday
As Florida’s cases continue to soar, the state reported a seven-day rolling average of 21,706 new cases daily last week.
The state also recorded an additional 1,071 deaths, a daily average of 153, in the health department’s weekly report.
This brings the statewide total to 2,877,214 cases and 40,766 deaths.
After DeSantis threatened to withhold school funds Friday, the Biden administration stepped in and allowed the schools to use funds from pandemic relief measures to replace the salaries of staff members.
‘It was very encouraging to get the support of the White House during this very, very difficult time that we find ourselves in,’ Dr Osgood said.
She added: ‘We’ve been working extremely hard to put these in place, and we’re not going to risk their lives by allowing it to be optional.’
DeSantis has urged Floridians to get vaccinated, and says people should continue to wear masks if they want to – but that no-one should be forced to don the face coverings.
Under 12s cannot yet receive COVID vaccines. Pro-maskers say the coverings are needed to keep them safe, but those opposed say children rarely get seriously-ill with the virus.