‘Alachua County can’t override the parents’: Gov. Ron DeSantis responds to school mask mandate

Gov. DeSantis's response to Carlee Simon over mask mandates
Gov. DeSantis's response to Carlee Simon over mask mandates(WCJB File)
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 11:50 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Alachua County Superintendent Carlee Simon said she is concerned the district could lose funding after the school board decided to mandate masks for the first two weeks of school, Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to that Thursday in Tampa.

“It’s the parent’s choice, Alachua County can’t override the parents, I think that’s pretty clear from the parent’s bill of rights I signed,” said Gov. DeSantis. “And quite frankly I think that’s the right thing to do anyway.”

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DeSantis signed an executive order last week threatening the funding of schools that require students to wear masks. On Tuesday the Alachua County School Board voted unanimously to require students to wear masks for at least the first two weeks of school. The superintendent appeared on CNN arguing the mandate is necessary to keep students in school.

“I think we are also concerned about losing instructional time,” said Simon. “We know that if we have masked children in our classrooms and all of them are masked then we are going to have fewer quarantines. When we have fewer quarantines that means our children are going to have face-to-face time more often.”

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Also on CNN, Board Member Tina Certain confirmed that the county is providing incentives to employees to get vaccinated, including giving 10 days paid time off to vaccinated employees who get a breakthrough case, but not giving that same PTO to unvaccinated employees.

“There’s a financial incentive to get the vaccine, and of course if there is a breakthrough the leave would be paid by the district, we took this route to encourage folks,” said Certain.

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Certain also argues the board’s mask mandate in schools does not violate the governor’s executive order, because the rules are not clearly outlined in the order.

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