Florida teachers union supporting districts wanting mask mandates

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Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 8:20 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (News Service of Florida) - The Florida Education Association teachers union is backing school districts trying to work around Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order that bars schools from requiring students to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeSantis’ executive order, in part, directed state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to withhold funding to school boards that don’t comply with the governor’s directive, which was issued last week.

At least three county school districts, Broward, Alachua and Duval, are moving ahead with efforts to require masks for some or all grade levels with the school year set to begin next week.

Leon County is requesting DeSantis allow a temporary mask mandate for kindergarten through eighth-grade students. “We believe every county should be empowered to make decisions on how best to keep their students safe in consultation with local health experts and based on the unique needs and circumstances in their area,” the teachers union said in a statement Wednesday.

The union also said it hopes other districts will “heed the advice” of local medical professionals. DeSantis contends that parents should be able to decide whether their children wear masks.

But Democratic politicians Wednesday continued arguing that school districts should be able to decide whether to have mask requirements. “Our ability to protect Florida is not working right now, because we have too many restrictions put in place for local officials to help do their jobs in areas that may be harder hit. And we call upon Gov. DeSantis to give locals back their control,” U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., said during an online news conference hosted by the organization Alianza For Progress.

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