Miami-Dade Schools Defy Florida Masking Ban as DeSantis Claims Mandates Are ‘Politically Driven’

The Miami-Dade County School Board recently voted in favor of implementing a districtwide mask mandate for all students returning to in-person learning, effectively defying a prior masking  ban that was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

School officials ruled in favor of the mandate late Wednesday with a final 7-to-1 tally. The mandate, which will be in effect for the 2021-2022 school year, will be periodically reviewed on an as-is basis. However, it will also allow parents to opt their children out of the order if they provide a doctor’s note.

The option to be excused from the masking order initially included a religious exemption but it was

removed

at the request of District 9 Board Member Luisa Santos, according to the

Miami Herald

.

The single nay vote came from Board Member Lubby Navarro, who sided that the mandate was in violation of DeSantis’ earlier ban. “My constituents of District 7 never elected me to violate state law,” she said at the time.


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REUTERS / Marco Bello

A student wearing a protective masks, walks past a “Welcome back” banner on the first day of school, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at St. Lawrence Catholic School in North Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. August 18, 2021.

Officials managed to go forward with the mandate in spite of surging protests by parents who were both in favor and in opposition of the masking guideline. Local CBS Miami news station

reported

that chants and passionate speeches were heard inside the board meeting, as well as outdoors.

Alejandro Serrano, who fully opposed the mandate urged county officials to “not – under any circumstance – violate Floridians constitutional freedoms,” before urging board members to leave the masking decision entirely up to parents and guardians.

On the other side of the argument was Francesa Charon, who showed officials that she had obtained the signatures of over 11,000 individuals who are in favor of the mandate. “We, the parents in favor of [the] mask mandate, are the majority on this matter,” she said.

The measure’s eventual passage came on the heels of overwhelming backing by a medical task force that was composed of six physicians and public health professionals who underscored that there is no gray area when it comes to the preventative COVID-19 effort.


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AFP 2021 / Wilfredo Lee

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures as he speaks, Monday, June 14, 2021, at the Shul of Bal Harbour, a Jewish community center in Surfside, Fla. DeSantis visited the South Florida temple to denounce anti-Semitism and stand with Israel, while signing a bill into law that would require public schools in his state to set aside moments of silence for children to meditate or pray

Miami-Dade County Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the local station that he was by no means intimidated by threats thrown against him or other school officials, saying, “I’ve been poor, I’ve been homeless, I’ve been alone in the country since I was 17. Threats against my salary or my position

do not factor one bit

into the decision I will make.”

“It is a small price to pay and what’s at stake here is too important,” he stressed. “We are talking about the health and well-being of our kids, of our teachers, of our principals. I do not know how to turn my back on the teacher who I spoke with this morning, whose mother is a teacher, as she was sobbing on the phone to me as her mom was about to be intubated.”

The school board’s effort fell in line with similar mandates that were imposed by Broward County schools, the Alachua school board, and educational facilities operated by the Archdiocese of Miami. A mandate has also gone in effect for Palm Beach County schools.

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, health professionals have been calling on the public to adhere to a wide variety of preventative measures, including the proper washing of one’s hands, wearing masks and social distancing guidelines, among other measures.

DeSantis Claims Masks Are All About Politicos Wanting to ‘Cover Their Own A**es’

However, just as medical professionals have vouched for the effectiveness of such methods, others have also clung to claims that such measures are wholly ineffective, and are just a means in which the US government and politicians mean to exact control over the public. Such is the case with Florida’s governor, who has repeatedly touted mask mandates as being part of a so-called “politically-driven” agenda.

DeSantis reiterated his negative view of masking guidelines the very same day that Miami-Dade County Schools had passed their new initiative. Appearing at the 2021 Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Marketing Operations Summit, the Republican governor blasted mask mandates as politicos simply wanting to “cover their a**es.”

​“Politicians want to force you to cover your face as a way for them to

cover their own a**es

. That’s just the truth,” DeSantis told the crowd. “They want to be able to say they are taking this on and they’re doing this even though it’s not proven to be effective – they want to continue to do it.”

The governor went on to say that his ban on mask mandates is meant to give parents the opportunity to “be able to send their kids to school in person with or without a mask as they see fit, not as what [the] government tells them to do.”

Anti-prevention efforts in Florida largely mirror initiatives taken in the nearby states of Texas and Georgia. The latter is where fellow Republican Gov. Brian Kemp

signed an order

on Thursday to allow businesses to ignore mask and vaccine mandates.

Latest COVID-19 figures indicate that Florida has only continued a surge in cases, with officials documenting an additional 15,586 cases and another 799 COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday. The Miami Herald

reported

that 798 of the reported deaths occurred in the

past month

.