After Governor Ron DeSantis lifted all local COVID-19 restrictions throughout the state on Monday, officials in South Florida are working to help residents know what to expect. There was confusion as parents were left unsure if masks policies remained in place at schools.
DeSantis also signed a bill limiting the state’s and local governments’ ability to shut down businesses and schools during an emergency.
“The legislation creates a default, legal presumption that during any emergency our businesses should be free from government mandates to close and our schools should remain open for in-person instruction for our children,” said DeSantis.
Miami-Dade County Public School officials responded to the executive order, stating students are still required to wear a mask on campus.
“We saw a clarification from the Florida Department of Education and they clarified to mean the it does not impact schools. All the health protocols that we have currently place in Miami-Dade County Public Schools will remain in place, including wearing masks for the remainder of the 2021 school year,” said Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, chief communications officer at Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Schools in the county headed to social media to notify parents that nothing had changed.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava showed concern about the governor's order by posting on Twitter saying in part: ”We are still in a public health emergency and our economy has not fully rebounded from the crisis. According to the governor’s executive order, local businesses are no longer mandated to require COVID safety precautions including masking. However, I urge our business community to continue to keep the fundamentals in place."
“I think you can only do so much on a virtual level and I think for him on a social level, it was important for him to go to middle school,” said Jennifer Clarin, mother of two.
Clarin is a mother of of an 11 and 14-year-old. She said it was important for her kids to attend school in-person this year.
“I think this year it was very smart to wear masks. I think it protected the kids, the teachers, it protected everybody,” she said.
So what will class be like in the fall? Gov. DeSantis said everyone should expect a normal school year.
“No one advocated a year-long restriction or lockdown on businesses or schools like we’ve seen in other states,” said DeSantis.
“I hope that there’s some normalcy. I hope that they can continue to have more interactions with their friends because that’s one of the things my kids look forward to. Going to school and seeing their friends,” said Clarin.
Thursday morning, DeSantis signed a new elections bill. It enacts restrictions on voting by mail and at drop boxes.