DeSantis issues order prohibiting schools from issuing mask mandates

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday to prohibit school districts from imposing mask-wearing requirements as students return to classes in August, according to the News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida said DeSantis scoffed at revised COVID-19 guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and questioned the potential health effects of forcing students to wear masks for hours at a time and said parents should be allowed to decide whether their children use face coverings.

“If you have been listening to some of the murmurs going around, particularly in Washington lately, 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,” DeSantis said during an event at Two Meatballs in the Kitchen restaurant in Cape Coral. “And I just want to say in Florida, there will be no lockdowns. There will be no school closures. No mandates in the state of Florida.”

Masks are optional in Southwest Florida school districts. Broward County schools have announced a mandate and the CDC said everyone in the K-12 setting should be masked up.

Some parents stood by the governor and breathed a sigh of relief, but others found the governor’s words concerning.

Aubrey Reiter is a mom of three and for her, the thought of some kids going back to school without masks is unnerving.

“That could cause some problems, especially for those of us who have younger ones at home to then the older ones are getting it and asymptomatic and bringing it home to the little one,” Reiter said. “I know a lot of the kids haven’t been vaccinated yet.”

DeSantis’ executive order did not make her feel better.

“How do you make sure your children are following that when you were not with them? You’ve got to give school the ability to help you take care of your family,” Reiter said.

Angela Rizzi said she doesn’t want the school’s help to take care of her family.

She stood by DeSantis as he spoke in Cape Coral and was excited to learn her daughter Mikaela won’t have to mask up.

“She kept having irritation, sinus irritation, throat irritation from the mask,” Rizzi said. “We know what our children’s best interests are.”

Vasha Tolbert agrees masks should be optional. She said parents have the tools to make an informed decision, but her 10-year-old will wear a mask.

“I know that she is ineligible for the vaccine. So I will have that conversation with her and she will be wearing masks come this fall,” Tolbert said.

While DeSantis said he is acting in the best interest of children, Dr. Mobeen Rathore disagrees.

“The whole idea of masking and other mitigation processes is to make sure that our children are protected,” said Rathore, part of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

DeSantis often claims that mask mandates had no effect but the vast majority of data and medical professionals say otherwise.

“I think it is important that we look at and listen to people who have spent a lifetime doing this,” Rathore said. “The body of evidence is so strong that it cannot be ignored.”

Rathore said the consequences of ignoring the evidence could lead to lots of heartaches.

“I see more tragedy; I see more sick children,” Rathore said. “I see more children in the hospital; I see more children in the ICU; I see more children intubated in the ICU on ventilators.”

“And I see more children, unfortunately, dying of this terrible disease.”

Watch the DeSantis’ Cape Coral press conference below or click here.

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