The move by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to ban the school mask mandates is already working with a record number of people hospitalized with Covid - 19.
Less than a week after the Republican governor threatened to mithold state funding to school districts that require masks, two schools are backing down on such mandates. Broward County Public Schools reversed its masking rule, which the school board asked just a week prior to fulfill a governor's executive order that schools should leave masking decisions to parents, according to a statement on Monday. Gadsden County School District had also planned a mask requirement for the coming year, but has reversed the order, according to WTVT in Florida.
'Parents can choose how they want to equip their kids for going to school, DeSantis said Tuesday in response to a reporter's request on spreading delta variant. 'We believe parents have this right. I am sure the White House tried to say I prohibited parents from making that decision it's just the opposite, we're empowering them.
DeSantis's move on Friday leaves the decision if students should wear masks to parents. If the State Board of Education determines a district is unwilling or unable to comply with the order, the board can 'withhold the transfer of state funds, discretionary grants, discretionary lottery funds, or any other funds until the district complies with the law.
Many public schools in Florida were scheduled to open classrooms on Aug. 10, and almost all private schools in Florida will begin classes before the end of the month, according to the state. DeSantis' directive conflicts with the U.S. Department of Education that highlights the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines for universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors in K-12 schools regardless of vaccine status.
Florida sources make up nearly 40% of all district schools funding, so there could be a'severe negative credit impact' if funding is withheld, according to Tom Kozlik, head of municipal research analytics at Hilltop Securities.
Kozlik said withholding state funds from school districts will act as a deterrent for districts who may want to institute a mask mandate or policy. 'Withholding aid is probably a policy with the most teeth, he said in an interview. It creates this dynamic that any school doesn't want to upset their relationship with the state.
CDC's Covid - 19 rates are among the worst in the country, according to Florida data.