TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida's State Board of Education held an emergency meeting Friday to consider Emergency Rules 6AER21-01, Pupil Attendance Records for COVID-19 and 6AER21-02, COVID-19 Hope Scholarship Transfer Procedures, after much debate over Governor Ron DeSantis' opposition to mask mandates in public schools.
- Emergency Rule 6AER21-01, Pupil Attendance Records, will provide criteria to avoid learning loss and consider a student in attendance, when under a “stay-home” directive due to COVID-19. Passed with a unanimous vote.
- Emergency Rule 6AER21-02, COVID-19 Hope Scholarship Transfer Procedures, provides parents with a mechanism to transfer a child to a private school or another school district under a Hope Scholarship when a school district’s COVID-19 health protocols, including masking, pose a health or educational danger to their child. Health protocols for schools including masking will be addressed by the Department of Health. Passed with a unanimous vote.
The new rule offers students experiencing "COVID-19 harassment" scholarships to attend private schools.
“COVID-19 harassment” means any threatening, discriminatory, insulting, or dehumanizing verbal, written or physical conduct an individual student suffers in relation to, or as a result of, school district protocols for COVID-19, including masking requirements, the separation or isolation of students, or COVID-19 testing requirements, that have the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits."
The order directs that any actions taken by school districts comply with the Parents’ Bill of Rights, codified in Sections 1014.02 – 1014.06, Fla. Stat., and “protect parents’ right to make decisions regarding masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.”
The Health Department also released its new emergency rule Friday saying students can wear masks but the district must offer an opt-out. Non-compliance could mean a reduction of funding, per DeSantis’ executive order.