School boards across Florida are reconsidering mandatory mask policies since a judge struck down Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order barring local classroom mandates.
Driving the news: The ruling paved the way for boards in Brevard, Charlotte, Lee, Lake, Volusia, and Osceola Counties to call meetings to talk about mask policies. At least two of them — Brevard and Lee — instituted mask mandates Monday.
Why it matters: As of Monday, Tampa Bay school districts from Citrus to Sarasota had reported nearly 17,000 confirmed COVID cases among students and staff — a milestone that took months longer to reach last school year.
- And teens have the highest positivity rate in the state, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.
State of play: Hillsborough and Sarasota are among the 10 boards that openly defied DeSantis’ orders and made masks mandatory — but those 10 make up more than half of the state’s public school students.
- It sets up an interesting situation in Pinellas County, where the swing vote to keep masks optional was a board member who wanted mandatory masks but didn’t want to “break the law.”
Between the lines: The ruling, which DeSantis has vowed to appeal, seems to have kept Florida out of the crosshairs of the U.S. Department of Education.
- The feds announced yesterday that they’re investigating five Republican-led states that banned mask requirements because those policies could mean discrimination against students who have disabilities or health issues.
- The department said — for now — it wasn’t looking at the four states where such bans have been overturned by courts: Florida, Texas, Arkansas and Arizona.