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Florida Judge Rules Against DeSantis’ Ban On Mask Mandates

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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A Florida judge ruled Wednesday that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis cannot bar schools from implementing mask mandates until the legal battle between the state and local school boards is settled by the courts.

DeSantis issued an executive order in July prohibiting schools and local governments from requiring masks in public schools, instead leaving the decision up to parents. A number of school districts are challenging the order, which threatens to withhold funding for schools and teachers who do not comply.

At least 13 Florida school districts are defying the ban and instituting mask mandates anyway, according to CNN.

Second Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis cannot enforce his ban for the time being. Two weeks ago, Cooper ruled against DeSantis, determining that he had overreached and could not ban districts from requiring masks with no parental opt-out.

DeSantis appealed, leading to a pause on mask mandates that is now being lifted by Wednesday’s ruling. (RELATED: Florida To Start Issuing $5000 Fines To Businesses Requiring Proof Of Vaccination)

“In particular for children under 12, they cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, there’s really only one or two means to protect them against the virus … either stay at home, or mask,” Cooper said Wednesday. “It’s undisputed that in Florida we are in the midst of a Covid pandemic. Based on the evidence I’ve heard, there’s no harm to the state if the stay is set aside.”

The case will now go to the First District Court of Appeal, and may end up at the Florida Supreme Court thereafter. DeSantis has reiterated that he is confident he will ultimately win the case. The Biden administration, however, has signaled it will attempt to prevent Republican governors from outlawing mask mandates.

“What we have found is, you know, in the trial courts in Tallahassee, state and federal, we typically lose if there is a political component to it. But then in the appeals court, we almost always win,” the governor said prior to Cooper’s ruling.