Parental choice versus vaccine mandates in public schools has become the most critical issue in Florida politics, especially with new, strict mandates coming from the White House. However, Florida parents have secured a huge win this week, with the appellate courts upholding Gov. DeSantis' (R-FL) no-mask mandate policy in Florida Public Schools.
The school year has kicked off around Florida leading to many counties fighting back against the Governor's no-mask policies. Broward and Marion County for instance either debates or fully implemented mask mandates on students. Now, the courts have left their side.
The DeSantis Administration won approval the week to postpone a Leon County judge’s ruling that said the state could not enforce a ban on strict mask mandates in schools.
The 1st District Court of Appeal agreed to a state request to reinstate a stay on Judge John Cooper’s ruling amid objections from a group of parents who said the move could cause “irreparable harm” to their children amid a rise of COVID-19 cases.
The decision means the state can continue to punish school officials who impose mask mandates without a parent opt-out.
Last month, Cooper ruled that the state could not penalize districts that impose strict mask mandates if they demonstrate the policy is “reasonable” and necessary to achieve a “compelling state interest.”
Thirteen of Florida’s 67 school districts so far have strict mask requirements in defiance of the state’s order. In response, the state has begun to withhold funds equivalent to the monthly salaries of school board members in Broward and Alachua counties and started investigating others for non-compliance.
However, do not expect this victory for DeSantis and the Florida GOP to be long-term. Federal grants are expected to play a role in the aftermath of this ruling and with President Biden's (D) latest decisions, that seems likely.