Big business, schools defy DeSantis’ orders

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced during an appearance at Two Meatballs in the Kitchen in Cape Coral on July 30 that he was issuing an executive order banning schools from requiring masks. (Credit: Wink News)

The governor’s message was clear: No mask mandates or lockdowns to control the rising COVID-19 cases.

But doctors continue to warn those who can’t – or won’t – get vaccinated that masks are their only defense.

Now, some businesses and schools are standing up against Gov. Ron DeSantis’ message, which brought about mixed reactions. Some celebrated his order; others say they’re putting children first.

School districts, cruise lines, and hospitals are pushing back, pleading with the community to mask up and even going so far as to require it.

“My colleagues and I have seen an overwhelming increase of COVID. Our offices are overwhelmed, and our providers are working very hard to ensure the safety of our children,” said Dr. Salvatore Anzalone, a pediatrician with NCH.

The governor’s executive order prevents mask mandates in schools and states schools would face a loss of funding if they did so.

“There will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in Cape Coral on July 30.

That isn’t stopping the School District of Lee County from requiring masks – for now – and Norwegian Cruise Line scored a legal victory after a judge ruled late Sunday that it can require passengers to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus.

The State of Florida accounts for 1 in 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections nationwide.

The governor’s office sent WINK News the following statement:

With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for noncompliance of state law regarding these rules and ultimately the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education and health care decisions, it would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed. For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law.

Education funding is intended to benefit students first and foremost, not systems. The Governor’s priorities are protecting parents’ rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs.

Just a note — such penalties would NOT apply to districts like Hillsborough, which has a “mask mandate” that allows parents to opt out their kids for any reason. This type of policy is permissible under the new rules, although we will be monitoring the implementation to ensure it doesn’t violate any of the provisions of the new rules.

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