Judge overrules Florida governor’s ban on mask mandates inside schools

A judge ruled on Friday that Florida school districts may impose mask mandates, overruling Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order.

The governor’s order gave parents the sole right to decide if their child wears a mask at school.

The ruling comes after several Florida school districts, including DCPS, defied the governor and mandated masks anyway.

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper, however, agreed with a group of parents who claimed in a lawsuit that DeSantis’ order is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, the Associated Press reported.

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The judge cited a bill that was passed by the legislature and signed into law by DeSantis that allows this type of power to go to the school board to decide.

Cooper’s decision came after a three-day virtual hearing and as at least 10 Florida school boards, including Duval County Public Schools, voted to defy DeSantis and impose mask requirements with no parental opt-out. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with science and evidence backing of mask effectiveness was also brought up.

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While the governor and others argued that a new Florida law gives parents the ultimate authority to oversee health issues for their children, Cooper said it also exempts government actions that are needed to protect public health and are reasonable and limited in scope, the AP reported. He said a school district’s decision to require student masking to prevent the spread of the virus falls within that exemption.

DCPS is one of at least ten districts whose board voted to require masks with no parent opt-out option.

Parents Action News Jax spoke to Friday had differing opinions. One mom, by the name of Sandra, acknowledged that it’s hard to keep kids in masks.

“Part of me is half-and-half, you know,” she said about kids in masks. She added that she supports schools requiring masks, adding though, that she believes the vaccine is more effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 than face coverings.

Another mom who didn’t want to share her identity says she understands schools wanting to do everything to protect children from COVID-19. But she believes they do not have the right to mandate masks.

“My concern lies with any outside entity like a school or church standing in between a parent’s will for their child,” she said.

Action News Jax is reaching out to local school districts to learn if any will now implement mask mandates.

Watch FOX30/CBS47 today at 5 for the very latest.