Florida Politics | By Anne Geggis | August 24, 2021
“Enough is enough, governor:” Eighth school district expected to join rebellion against DeSantis order
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried Tuesday morning called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to pull down his executive order that stops schools from requiring students come to school masks.
“Governor, enough is enough,” she said.
The move comes as eight school districts, and possibly a ninth are now in open rebellion, passing requirements for all children to come to school with masks unless they have a doctor’s note.
Tuesday is also the second day of a three-day hearing on the ban on mask mandates; parents have brought a lawsuit saying the masks-optional policy is endangering their children’s health. Fried also cited reports of teachers and children dying from COVID-19 in her plea.
“Governor, it’s time to pull down the executive order, the unconstitutional executive order and let our school boards do what they were voted in to do — represent parents, represent children and provide a safe environment for this coming school year,” said Fried, who attended the second day of the school year in Miami-Dade County public schools at Southside Elementary School with Miami-Dade School Board member Lucia Baez-Geller. “ … Let’s protect our students together. Let’s start working together instead of fighting each other.”
Fried, a Democrat, is in a bid to replace DeSantis, who has not formally announced he is a candidate for re-election next year. She also faces Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary.
DeSantis’ office has maintained that mandatory masks do not stop the spread of COVID-19 and the requiring masks interferes with parents’ rights to decide for their children whether to be masked.
Alachua and Broward counties were the first to buck DeSantis’ ban on the student mask requirement. As a result, the Governor’s office announced that these districts would face a deduction in state aid in an amount equal to School Board members’ salaries. The federal government has since gotten involved, pledging that no district would suffer financially for defying DeSantis. And, before school started in Miami-Dade on Monday, the School Board voted to require students wear face coverings, unless they have a doctor’s note.
Other districts, with thousands of students either infected with COVID-19 or in quarantine from the first week in school, have followed suit. In the last week, Duval, Hillsborough, Leon, Palm Beach, Sarasota counties have since joined the rebellion, and Orange County’s School Board Chairwoman Teresa Jacobs has announced her desire to drop the parental opt-out in that county’s policy, according to WESH-TV.
Fried said she is proud of those courageous school leaders willing to go up against the Governor.
“I’m so proud not only of the School Board here in Miami-Dade but also for the seven others across the entire state of Florida who have stood up for the health and wellness and safety of our children … who made sure that they weren’t going to be bullied by the Governor.
Alachua County sent a reply to the latest threat to the state Education Department on Sunday. Broward County said they have until today to respond and have not yet provided it.
“The parents of Alachua County have placed their trust in us to care for their children; protecting each other with universal masking will help keep our children in the classroom and out of the hospital,” Alachua schools Superintendent Carlee Simon wrote in the letter to the State Education Board.
In reply to the Governor’s contention that masks do not stop the transmission of the virus, Fried said: “I’m following the science, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations.”