Rep. Anthony Sabatini wants mask mandates lifted in Florida school districts immediately.
Calling masks for students a “cruel and misguided policy,” he pushed Gov. Ron DeSantis to order all school districts to lift such requirements.
“A student and their parents should have the choice whether to wear a mask or not — not government,” the Howey-in-the-Hills Republican wrote in a letter to DeSantis.
In his capacity as an attorney, Sabatini represented several businesses that sued local governments last year. He regularly challenged the constitutionality of lockdowns and mask mandates intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Judges consistently ruled against him, with one circuit judge even admonishing Sabatini for bringing frivolous suits.
“The Court urges Mr. Sabatini to reflect on the possibility that, at some point, he could be sanctioned,” wrote Judge David Frank of the 2nd Circuit Court in a decision upholding a Gadsden County ordinance.
But DeSantis, who resisted calls to ever issue a statewide mask mandate, signed an executive order Monday lifting all local emergency restrictions related to the pandemic. That included mask mandates.
“We worked very hard, particularly since the summer, to jettison those types of policies, and we focused on lifting people up,” DeSantis said. “We wanted people going back to work. We wanted our kids to be in school.”
But his order did not impact local school district masking requirements.
Three federally approved COVID-19 vaccines are in use in Florida. The Department of Health reports 8,959,355 people in the state have received at least one dose or about 41.6% of the state’s total population.
But only one vaccine, from Pfizer, is approved for children ages 16 to 18, and none are available to children at any younger age. That means nearly the entire student population, and all middle and elementary schools, remain completely unvaccinated, despite school staff and faculty being eligible for shots.
Sabatini thanked DeSantis for bringing an end to local orders after 14 months, calling restrictions “an unapparelled abuse of power and an unrivaled suppression of individual liberty never seen before in our great state.”
He presumably used a play on the word “unparalleled,” as masks technically count as apparel.
“As I write this letter, Florida’s schoolchildren are still being forced under the threat of punishment to wear face masks at nearly all times,” he wrote. “This cruel government action must cease.”
Today I sent a letter to @GovRonDeSantis requesting an Executive Order suspending the power of School Boards to mask children—a cruel and misguided policy. ￼ I applaud the Gov. for yesterday‘s Order suspending local city & county orders, but School Boards MUST also be included. pic.twitter.com/e3VLRUqiHx
— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) May 4, 2021