Florida School Mask Mandate Ban Reinstated

Kate Markus, Life Editor

The Florida Appeals Court reinstated Governor Ron DeSantis’ mask mandate ban on Sept. 11. The decision affects 13 school districts, including Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which began the school year with a mask mandate. DeSantis has threatened to revoke funding that covers school board members’ salaries for any district that continues to enforce the mandate. 

DeSantis has pushed for this ban since schools reopened in the fall, but the 13 school districts initially disregarded him and made the local decision to impose a mask mandate. The Florida Department of Education has begun withholding funds, starting with Broward and Alachua Counties. 

DeSantis’ decision has resulted in several lawsuits, including parent-led cases circulating throughout state and federal courts. After a three-judge panel of the First District Court ruled in favor of DeSantis in one of these cases, it allowed him to reinstate a hold on a Leon County judge’s decision, saying that the state could not enforce its ban on mask mandates.

The 13 districts have not yet changed their mask policies, with President Biden and the U.S. Department of Education promising a grant designed to cover any funds withheld because of school districts’ mask rules. In doing so, the Biden administration demonstrated the latest move in the battle between DeSantis and the federal government. 

With the opening of Florida schools in August, Biden called in support of some Florida superintendents, urging them to continue fighting DeSantis’s requirement of parental choice on masks. He also announced he would take legal action against governors who ban school mask mandates.