Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed Thursday that there will be no mask mandates in the state for the coming school year, and committed to pursue any necessary legislative action to combat such directives from Washington, D.C.
“There’s been talk about potentially people advocating at the federal level, imposing compulsory masks on kids. We’re not doing that in Florida, OK? We need our kids to breathe. We need our kids to be able to be kids,” DeSantis stated at a news conference. (RELATED: Chicago Public Schools Break With CDC, Mandate Masks For Vaccinated Students And Teachers)
The governor’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who called his stance “concerning.”
“But that puts kids at risk, it’s not aligned with public health guidelines. We know masks are not the most comfortable thing. I will say, my kids are quite adjusted to them, as I know many kids are. So certainly, we would have concern about any step that doesn’t abide by public health guidelines and we think it puts people at greater risk,” Psaki stated.
Wednesday, President Joe Biden stated that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would likely advise that everyone under the age of 12 should wear a mask in school, as previously reported by The Daily Caller. (RELATED: Atlanta Public Schools Will Require Masks For Students And Teachers Despite Governor’s Orders)
DeSantis, however, committed to countering any “campaign from Washington” to pressure schools into requiring masks, stating that he had spoken to Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls and that they are both in favor of bringing legislators back into special session “to do something from the legislative perspective,” should the need arise.
DeSantis said that it is time to “start putting our kids first.” “We got to look out for their education. Is it really comfortable? Is it really healthy for them to be muzzled and have their breathing obstructed all day long in school? I don’t think it is.”
The outcomes of schools that did and did not require masks “were not meaningfully different,” and such decisions should be left up to parents rather than government, he argued.
His comments come as Broward County, the second largest county in Florida, “is strongly recommending that face coverings be worn by all students,” according to The Miami Herald.