‘Parent’s choice’: Ron DeSantis keeps fighting school mask mandates
Gov. Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis
School districts are pushing back, but DeSantis isn't backing down.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has not signed off on any exceptions to his ban on K-12 mask mandates, he said Thursday in Tampa. And he called one county out in particular.

The Governor issued a categorical ban of mask requirements and stated his intent was for the Departments of Education and Health to craft rules. In the interim, school districts in Broward, Leon, Duval, and Alachua counties went their own way.

Will all of them get away with subverting the order? That’s an open question, per remarks from DeSantis and a spokesperson Thursday.

“It’s parents’ choice in Florida. And government can’t override the parents. And so we believe the parents are the ones that have the choice. And we obviously have an executive order to that effect,” DeSantis said, noting that rulemaking at tomorrow’s Board of Education meeting would establish parameters before singling out Alachua, which is requiring students to wear masks for two weeks, for particular attention.

“It’s the parent’s choice,” DeSantis emphasized. “Alachua County can’t override the parents.”

After the media availability, DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw said DeSantis “has not signed on to any district’s plan.”

“100% no to Alachua,” Pushaw added. “They blatantly defied the spirit of the executive order he signed.”

Expect an update after Friday’s board meeting, Pushaw said. 

Beyond Alachua, the other counties have their own rules. Broward, as of now, has a mask mandate going into the school year. Duval also does, but their “student code of conduct” allows an “opt-out” as an attempted workaround to the anticipated rules. And Leon wants masks for students up to eighth grade.

These variations on a theme don’t jibe with the absolutist nature of DeSantis’ rhetoric, however.

In his comments Thursday, DeSantis noted the Executive Order was rooted in the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” legislation signed into law earlier this year that allows parents to opt-out of school district health dictates. 

“(The bill) laid down the law in the state of Florida that parents have the fundamental right to raise their children, their health, their well-being, and that has to be respected by the state at all levels of government. So it’s our belief that this should be a parent’s choice, and I think it flows directly from that bill,” DeSantis said. 

DeSantis added that “many of these kids have recovered from COVID, and so there’s really no scientific justification to put it on at that point, if there is, to begin with. I think a lot of parents would want to have that ability.”

The Governor made the comments at Tampa General Hospital Thursday.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Ron Ogden

    August 5, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    This is about more than masks. This is about the relationship between, on one hand, the teachers union/public school /central government establishment and, on the other hand, the parents of the children themselves. Even more than that, it is the vital contest between the collectivist big-government Gargantua and the great multitude of individual American citizens to finally decide what is more important to the future: the state or the family. We have elected DeSantis governor, speculated about DeSantis as president and now is the time to begin to see that DeSantis is emerging as an American hero like Ronald Reagan and Dr. Martin Luther King. He is standing up to the most power-drunk bureaucrats in the central government and peacefully protesting their thoughtless and arrogant brutality.

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 5, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    Parents deserve 100% of the decision making with 100% vouchers. Plus vouchers are cheaper per student than institutional largess with no accountability.

  • Frankie M.

    August 5, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    Why does DeSantis have to approve exceptions? A press release disguised as an executive order is not legally binding. DeSantis might want to make sure he actually went to law school.

    • Tom

      August 5, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Oh now you are an expert Frankie as a const scholar. Just like the idiots in DC on the rental moratorium eviction ban being reinstated. They know it is not. To be clear, he gave patents the choice for their kids. It’s called liberty.
      The science says they are safe. My gosh. As if you know better.

  • Glenn Reihing RN BSN

    August 6, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Let’s go back to basics:
    1. The virus is spread through respiratory contact by inhaling particles spread by infected people. This is why you need to wear a mask.
    2. It takes 14 days before symptoms appear so you have that long of a window to infect people before you come down with the disease. With the new Delta variant, people are getting sicker quicker, and it is more deadly than previous variants (over 90% of deaths are coming from unvaccinated people). This is why you still need to wear a mask and get the vaccine.
    3. If you are vaccinated, you can still get and transmit the disease. The good news is that symptoms are milder.
    4. For those that use the excuse “it’s not approved”, let me say this. It has gone into the arms of over 130+ million people. While some have experienced allergic reactions (which is usual for any drug) to the vaccine, the vast majority have not. This is probably the best clinical trial that you can point to say that you can go ahead and get vaccinated.
    5. For those that worry about “long-term effects”, if you do not experience any effects in the short term, then you can safely rest that you will not experience any long-term effects.

  • Cliff Gephart

    August 6, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    So much for pro-life, local school control, small government, and freedom from government interference. Typical GOP Hypocrisy.

Comments are closed.


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