Florida’s Board of Education approved an emergency measure Friday that allows parents to use vouchers to transfer their children out of schools that impose mask mandates.
Specifically, parents can transfer their children to another school or another district in the state if a “student has been subjected to harassment or other qualifying adverse, intimidating treatment,” according to the new emergency rule announcement. (RELATED: ‘We Need Our Kids To Breathe’: DeSantis Vows No Mask Mandates As Major US Cities Clamp Down While COVID-19 Cases Rise)
“Because of the importance of in-person learning to educational, social, emotional and mental well-being, it is important to protect parents’ right to make health care decisions for their minor children at school and provide in-person education for their children,” the rule says.
NEW: Florida Board of Education unanimously approved allowing families to take their children’s education dollars elsewhere if they disagree with their public school’s masking rules.
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) August 6, 2021
“If a parent wants their child to wear a mask ay school, they should have that right. If a parent doesn’t want a child to wear a mask at school, it’s cool, they should have that right,” Ben Gibson, vice chair of the Florida State Board of Education, said, according to WSVN.
The Hope Scholarship Program provides funding for K-12 public-school students.
“Applying the Hope Scholarship Program to instances where a child has been subjected to COVID-19 harassment will provide parents another means to protect the health and education of their child by moving their child to another school,” the emergency order states.
The Department of Education used emergency powers to act “given that public schools throughout the state open in August and some open in less than one week.”
The Department of Education is also using its emergency powers because “the recent increase in COVID-19 cases has prompted school districts to consider imposing additional COVID-19-related requirements on students.”
“The emergency rule provides a mechanism to transfer a child to a private school or another school district under a Hope Scholarship when a student is subjected to harassment in response to a school district’s COVID-19 mitigation protocols,” the announcement states.
“Unnecessarily isolating, quarantining, or subjecting children to physical COVID-19 constraints in schools poses a threat to developmental upbringing and should not occur absent a heightened showing of actual illness or serious risk of illness to other students,” Florida’s Board of Education said.