Despite Delta variant's spread, Gov. Ron DeSantis remains opposed to mask mandates in Florida schools

'No mandates for anything,' DeSantis says
Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 18:14:34-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s governor is standing firm against mask mandates in the coming academic year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters Tuesday morning he expects a "normal school year" and promised no penalties for violators if a district should enact a mandate.

"No mandates for anything," DeSantis said. "I think it's very unfair for some of the youngest kids who are the least susceptible, least likely to spread it, that they have the mitigation imposed on them more severely than a lot of adults do."

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks on masks in schools
Gov. Ron DeSantis remains opposed to mask mandates in schools, even with COVID-19 cases rises again in Florida.

DeSantis has maintained the same position throughout the summer, and most Florida districts have made masks optional as classes get ready to resume.

But with the more infectious Delta variant spreading and Florida's COVID cases again on the rise, a few districts are still mulling the requirement.

Schools in Orange County were among them, considering whether to extend its mask mandate Tuesday evening.

Florida's teacher union rejected the governor's statement.

President of the Florida Education Association Andrew Spar
Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association, speaks on masks in schools.

President of the Florida Education Association Andrew Spar said masks and other mitigation decisions should be left to districts, not the state.

"I believe in local control. I would hope the governor would believe in local control," Spar said. "The people to best make decisions as to what should happen in school districts are, in fact, the elected school boards, the teachers and staff, the health officials in a community working together with parents and the community."

The latest Centers for Disease Control school guidance, updated last week, recommends face coverings indoors only for unvaccinated. That includes those under 12 not yet old enough for the vaccine.