Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is not backing down from the fight over mask mandates in schools.
Last week, Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper ruled that the Republican governor overstepped his authority by ordering schools not to impose mask requirements. Florida is currently being ravaged by the COVID-19 and the Delta variant, leading some municipalities and counties to reinstate mask mandates to curb the spread.
Currently, the state's 67 school boards are free to require masks, but DeSantis and his lawyers want to appeal the decision, NBC News reports.
The governor said during a news conference this week he's confident that he'll win the case by invoking the Parents Bill of Rights. This law gives parents the authority to oversee their child's health and education, DeSantis claims.
“Ultimately, we are just trying to stand with the parents,” he said. “We think it’s important that they are given the ability to opt out.”
Judge Cooper, however, says the Parent Bills of Rights exempt government actions meant to protect public health, which includes mask mandates for students during an unprecedented global pandemic.
“It doesn’t require that a mask mandate must include a parental opt-out at all,” Cooper said in an oral ruling Friday (August 27). He also called out the governor's erroneous use of a Brown University study claiming masks are ineffective.
Gov. DeSantis has faced backlash from federal and local officials for threatening to revoke school district's funding if they imposed mask mandates. He even went as far as to threaten to take school officials' salaries if they defied him.