Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order over the weekend that allows parents to choose whether their children wear masks in school.
“Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-175, in response to several Florida school boards considering or implementing mask mandates in their schools after the Biden Administration issued unscientific and inconsistent recommendations that school-aged children wear masks,” the governor’s office said in a statement on Saturday. “The Florida Department of Health will enter rulemaking in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education to protect parents’ freedom to choose whether their children wear masks.”
The executive order said, in part, “despite recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ‘guidance,’ forcing students to wear masks lacks a well-grounded scientific justification; indeed, a Brown University study analyzed COVID-19 data for schools in Florida and found no correlation with mask mandates.”
“Masking children may lead to negative health and societal ramifications,” the order continued. “And studies have shown that children are at a low risk of contracting a serious illness due to COVID-19 and do not play a significant role in the spread of the virus.”
“Forcing children to wear masks could inhibit breathing, lead to the collection of dangerous impurities including bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other contaminants, and adversely affect communications in the classroom and student performance,” the order continued. “There is no statistically significant evidence to suggest that counties with mask requirements have fared any better than those without mask requirements during the 2020-2021 school year.”
“On April 29, 2021, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees issued a Public Health Advisory stating that continuing COVID-19 restrictions on individuals, including long-term use of face coverings, pose a risk of adverse and unintended consequences,” the order added.
During a press conference, DeSantis said that “the federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day.”
“Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children,” he added.