Florida Board of Education to vote on mask rule Friday

The rule being considered by state education officials appears to stop short of trying to overturn local mask requirements.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Board of Education is set to vote on an emergency rule Friday. Governor Ron DeSantis says it will give parents control over whether their kids wear masks, which is in line with last week’s executive order threatening to pull funding from schools that require them.

DeSantis reiterated his opposition to school mask mandates during an event in Tampa Thursday.

“It’s parents’ choice in Florida, and government can’t override parents. We obviously have an executive order to that effect,” he explained. “And now, the board of education is gonna meet and they’ve got a couple proposed rules that’ll outline some of the things that’ll happen.”

However, the rule being considered by state education officials appears to stop short of trying to overturn local mask requirements.

The Florida Board of Education’s meeting notice only gives a synopsis of the proposed emergency rule. But, in essence, Hope Scholarship vouchers would be made available to parents who don’t want their children wearing masks in school districts that require them.

With the scholarship, parents who want to avoid mask mandates could transfer their kids to another public school, or get taxpayer-funded seats in a private school where they wouldn’t have to wear face coverings.

The Hope Scholarships are typically reserved for students who are victims of assault or bullying.

“So, you can send your kid to an unaccountable private school where you don’t know what kind of education they’re getting,” Andrew Spar, Florida Education Association President said. “That doesn’t make sense, that shows a political motive.“

In a Facebook live interview with Influence Communications Thursday, Spar said public input should be accepted before adopting the rule.

“But if you don’t see the rule in advance that they’re going to be talking about, it’s kind of hard to comment on it,” he explained. “The governor did say he wants to defund public schools if they put a mask order in place. We don’t know if he’s going to follow through on that promise.”

Spar also released the following official statement in response to the proposed Emergency Rule 6AER21-02:

“This is ridiculous. Judging from its new proposed rule, the state Department of Education sees not a public health emergency, but a mask emergency. FLDOE is using the Covid crisis as yet another opportunity to defund our neighborhood public schools and promote unaccountable, for-profit private and religious schools. Everyone’s top concern should be protecting the safety and wellbeing of Florida’s students, not playing politics with school funding.”

The emergency meeting is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. It will be live streamed on the Florida Channel

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