Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida announced an executive order Friday banning mask mandates in schools and protecting the rights of parents to choose to mask their children.
The order directs the Florida Department of Education and Health to issue emergency rules protecting the right of parents to make the decision about masks for their children under the “Parent’s Bill of Rights” that DeSantis signed into law in June.
During a press conference at a restaurant in Cape Coral, DeSantis firmly said he would not be deterred by the “movement to impose more restrictions on the American people.”
“In Florida, there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during his remarks.
The governor also ripped into the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for recommending all students in grades K-12 wear masks even if they’re fully vaccinated, saying that their recommendations “show a callous disregard for the physical, emotional, and academic well-being of our children.”
“The force masking, it has harmed students … Shouldn’t this be something that the parent is at best to evaluate, the effect that this will have on their children?” DeSantis continued. “Why would we have government force masks on our kids when many of these kids are already immune through prior infection, they’re virtually at zero risk of significant illness, and when virtually every school personnel, they’ve had access to vaccines for months.”
“I want to empower parents to be able to make the best decisions they can for the well-being of their children,” DeSantis went on to say.
DeSantis has received praise from conservatives for his unwillingness to go along with prolonged COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, as well as for opening schools to in-person learning at the beginning of the school year in 2020. (RELATED: Why Ron DeSantis Is The Future Of The Republican Party)
Florida has recently had a spike in new COVID-19 cases but the death rate remains below the national average.