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Schools can keep mask mandates while DeSantis appeals

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School districts that issued their own mask mandates can keep those in place while Gov. Ron DeSantis appeals a court decision supporting them. The ruling stems from DeSantis’ executive order forbidding school districts from imposing mask mandates that require the masking of students in K-12 classrooms unless those policies offer a way for parents to opt-out of the mandate.

In Hernando County, the School Board temporarily adopted a mask mandate, but parents may opt out of the so-called requirement by completing an online form.

As of Sept. 8, the District has received 5,780 opt out forms out of a total enrollment of 23,113 according to Public Information Officer (PIO) Karen Jordan.

On Aug. 27 Judge John C. Cooper of the 2nd District Court in Florida ruled that in issuing his executive order DeSantis overstepped his authority as the state’s chief executive.

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DeSantis vowed to appeal.

Generally, as soon as such an appeal is filed, an automatic stay is applied that keeps the legislation or executive order in place while the appeal is pending.

In response, the parents in those original school districts sued to have that stay vacated.

On Sept. 8, Cooper vacated the stay on grounds that the state would not be hurt if that happened.

“Here the greater weight of the evidence did not support the claim that mandatory face masks with medical opt-out would create any meaningful harm to those wearing them,” Cooper said in issuing his ruling. “I see no harm to the state by setting aside the stay – I hereby set aside the stay.”

During a press conference in Palm Coast, DeSantis said he would appeal.

“We typically lose if there is a political component to (the case),” DeSantis said before Cooper made his ruling. “I am confident that that will be reinstated at the 11th circuit (court of appeals).”

Meanwhile, the Hernando County School Board will revisit its masking policy on Oct. 12.


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