Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized local officials Wednesday who characterize the controversy over student masks mandates as an issue centered around him.
Speaking in Pembroke Pines, DeSantis said the state’s preemption of school mask mandates isn’t personal, but instead, a matter of state law.
He pointed to a new law dubbed the Parents’ Bill of Rights. The law empowers parents — rather than government — to direct a child’s upbringing on educational and health care issues.
Any insinuation otherwise, DeSantis suggested, is self-serving.
“If you make it about me, you get on CNN,” DeSantis said. “They’ll like you if you do that.”
The Governor’s remarks come after the Board of Education voted Tuesday against two school districts that implemented mandatory mask policies.
In the ruling, board members deemed Alachua and Broward counties in violation of DeSantis’ latest order against student mask mandates.
Both counties required students and teachers to wear masks on school grounds.
“The Legislature has spoken,” DeSantis said, describing the emergency orders as an implementation of new law.
For his part, DeSantis maintains that parents are in the “driver’s seat,” regardless of preference.
Under an emergency rule OK’d in August, parents may use a school voucher to transfer students to schools with mitigation measures they deem acceptable.
“The People of Florida, through their Legislature, have said parents have certain rights,” DeSantis said. “And I can tell you this: a parent has the right to send their kid to school in the way that’s most healthy for their child.”
Despite a rise in pediatric COVID-19 cases, DeSantis — among other points — contends the impacts of prolonged mask-wearing are unknown. To support his point, he pointed Tuesday across the pond.
“Britain doesn’t have kids in masks,” DeSantis added. “In fact, during their delta wave, they didn’t have the school kids in masks. European countries overwhelmingly have rejected that.”
According to the Florida Department of Health, 16,754 children under the age of 12 tested positive for COVID-19 from Aug. 6-12.
The total, DOH reports, accounts for a 22.1% positivity rate among children tested.