More than half of Florida's students are now enrolled in schools that have joined a rebellion against the efforts of Gov. Ron DeSantis to endanger children, according to The Washington Post.
Altogether, 10 school districts in the Sunshine State have voted to implement universal mask mandates in defiance of DeSantis' executive order banning such requirements. On Tuesday, Orange and Indian River counties became the latest districts to adopt masking requirements in order to reduce the risk of children and staff contracting COVID-19 as the state suffers through a withering surge. Now Florida's six largest districts have all adopted mask mandates: Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach, and Duval. The list also includes two districts that went for Trump in 2020: Indian River and Sarasota.
Combined student enrollment for all 10 counties accounts for roughly 52% of the state's student population, according to the Florida Department of Education.
DeSantis has promised to take retribution against school officials who defy his ban. The DeSantis-aligned state education board voted last week to defund Alachua and Broward districts—two of the first to require masking—and is currently seeking to learn the salaries of their school board members.
DeSantis' spokesperson is lying about the science on masking, claiming, "There is no empirical evidence to support the assertion that the benefits of forced masking of schoolchildren outweigh the potential harms."
That's a bold-faced lie. Empirical evidence clearly shows that universal masking exponentially reduces COVID-19 transmission in schools. Additionally, no credible studies have shown masking to be harmful to children.
“Because of the concerns that have been raised about whether there are any negative effects of masking on children, there have been now numerous studies done. These studies have unequivocally shown that there are no negative health effects on children from wearing a mask,” Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic doctor and pediatric disease expert, told the Post.
DeSantis has a very public, large-scale revolt on his hands, and he's on the wrong side of both the politics and the science.