Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Students wear face coverings at a school in Florida.

Student wear face coverings as they attend their first day of school at the St. Lawrence Catholic School Miami, on August 18, 2021. (Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

'Win for Common Sense': Judge Strikes Down DeSantis Ban on Mask Mandates

Florida court's ruling comes as CDC director warns school outbreaks are happening where health guidance is not being followed.

Julia Conley

A Florida judge delivered a blow to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' effort to stop public schools from mandating mask-wearing amid the state's latest surge in Covid-19 cases, ruling that the governor violated the Florida Constitution with his executive order last month.

"Governor DeSantis' ban on masks in schools is not only a dangerous government overreach that puts children's lives at risk, but it also violates Florida law."
—Nikki Fried, Florida Agriculture Commissioner

 
Second Judicial Circuit Judge John Cooper sided with several parents who sued DeSantis and his Department of Education over the state's directive which barred school districts from requiring face coverings and threatened to withhold state education funding if school boards disobeyed. 
 
Cooper granted the parents an injunction against the Department of Education and noted in his ruling that the state's "parent's bill of rights," which lawmakers passed earlier this year and which DeSantis claimed allowed him to keep schools from following public health guidance, "doesn't ban mask mandates."
 
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who is running to replace DeSantis a governor, called the ruling "a win for common sense, for children's safety, and for all the families and school officials who have been fighting to protect their loved ones, students, and staff."
 
The governor indicated earlier this week that he planned to appeal Cooper's decision to a more conservative appeals court if the ruling was not in his favor. 
 
Several school districts have defied DeSantis' order in recent weeks despite his threat to pull funding, and as of Thursday, more than half of Florida's 2.8 million public school children were going to schools which have adopted mask mandates. 
 
Cooper handed down his ruling as CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Friday warned that outbreaks are beginning to overwhelm schools in districts choosing not to follow public health guidelines including masking, social distancing, and ventilation. 
 
"In our outbreak investigations, large-scale quarantines or large number of cases are generally occurring in schools, because schools are not following our guidance, particularly our recommendations for teachers as well as students aged 12 and over to be vaccinated and for everyone right now to be masked," Walensky said.
 
"I want to strongly appeal to those districts who have not implemented prevention strategies and encourage them to do the right thing to protect the children under their care," she added. "We know these multi-layered mitigation strategies work, and thanks to the American Rescue Plan schools have the resources to implement these strategies."
 
Amid DeSantis' attacks on public health measures, Florida is now seeing more children hospitalized with Covid-19 than at any other point in the pandemic. The state currently has the fifth highest number of new infections per capita.
 
Walensky's warning also applied to school districts in Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana, where tens of thousands of children have had to quarantine in recent days following exposure or potential exposure to the virus.
 
The Children's Hospital Association on Thursday requested "immediate help" from the Biden administration as pediatric hospitalizations across the country reached 1,500. 

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Massive Demonstration of Support for Lopez Obrador in Mexico City

AMLO was elected in 2018 and heralded as the Bernie Sanders of Mexico

Common Dreams staff ·


Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo