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.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Senate Urged to 'Finish the Job' After House Votes to End Cocaine Sentencing Disparity

"For 35 years, the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, based on neither evidence nor science, has resulted in higher sentences that are disproportionately borne by Black families and communities," said an ACLU attorney.

Julia Conley ·

Sanders Demands House Dems Vote Down Bipartisan Bill if Reconciliation Package Not Secured

"Physical infrastructure is important," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, "but the needs of working families and combating climate change is more important."

Kenny Stancil ·

Sunrise Movement Warns of 'Betrayal' as Pelosi Bends Toward Corporate Democrats

"We need Dems to hold the line for a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, full stop."

Jake Johnson ·

Progressive Groups Warn Congress Against Including Carbon Tax in Reconciliation Package

"If lawmakers are really concerned about holding the costs of this spending bill, they should get rid of the billions of dollars we waste every year on subsidies to polluters."

Jessica Corbett ·

Opposing His Renomination, Warren Calls Fed Chair Powell 'A Dangerous Man'

"Your record gives me grave concern," Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Jerome Powell. "Over and over, you have acted to make our banking system less safe."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo