It was a big day in Broward County as students and teachers returned to the classroom with a mask mandate in effect.
But this mask mandate defies Governor Ron Desantis’ executive order of a school mask ban. The Florida Board of Education authorized the state education commissioner to take legal steps against Broward and Alachua counties for requiring people in their school districts to wear face coverings.
“Districts who are picking and choosing what law they want to follow. That is a violation of the rule of law which makes this country and special, more than any other nation," said Commissioner of the FL Dept. of Education, Richard Corcoran.
The legal steps against the districts could include withholding funds, salaries and removing officers. But it’s still unclear.
"The department of health’s rule addresses students who have been exposed to COVID, and talks about whether they are positive, social distancing, cleaning, masks, face coverings but it requires that they opt out for masking, said Corcoran.
The vote comes after Broward and Alachua counties put in place a mask mandate for students and faculty due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.
"It's my job as a mother to speak out and to pull as many people in and not be bullied and our school board certainly cannot be bullied. We elected them to represent us on local matters," said parent Laurie Woodward Garcia.
Last week, the Broward County Public School Board held a meeting and passed their mask mandate policy, only allowing parents to opt out due to medical conditions.
Parents of those who don’t comply with the mandate will be notified.
We’re the bad guys because we’re standing up for our children like mine who’s at home right now saying ‘i don’t want to wear a mask’ and my response right now, ‘you don’t have to,’” said a parent.
The State Board of Education may impose identical sanctions for the Alachua County School District. Palm Beach County agreed to let any parent opt out, which the state says complies with the law.