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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Friday banning local school districts from requiring students to wear masks.
The order came days after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance recommending that all students and teachers and other staffers in K-12 schools wear face coverings come the fall.
“If you listen to some of the stuff that’s being percolated around the CDC, there’s a movement to try to impose more restrictions on the American people,” said DeSantis, speaking at an unrelated press event, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“And I just want to say in Florida, there will be no lockdowns. There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions or mandates in the state of Florida.”
DeSantis cited the Sunshine State’s Parents’ Bill of Rights in his executive order, adding in a statement, “It is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children.”
School boards that do not comply with the order may be subject to having state funds withheld.
Before the signing of the order, the Florida Education Association spoke out against it, accusing DeSantis of implementing a “one-size-fits-all” policy.
“We reject that kind of thinking. Instead, we ask Gov. DeSantis to allow all Florida’s citizens to have a voice by empowering the elected leaders of cities, counties and school districts to make health and safety decisions locally based on their unique needs and circumstances,” FEA President Andrew Spar said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the CDC recommended indoor-mask mandates even for fully vaccinated people in areas experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases. The guidance comes amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant, which now makes up around 83 percent of cases nationwide, according to the agency.
Many Republicans, including former President Trump, spoke out against the guidance.
Florida has seen a recent rise in cases of COVID-19, with 17,589 new cases Wednesday, a high not seen since January, the Sentinel reported.
Sixty-one percent of Florida residents have been vaccinated, according to a COVID-19 report by the state.
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