A Leon County circuit judge is hearing arguments from parents seeking an end to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mask mandate ban. Specifically, the parents are seeking to challenge DeSantis’ executive order from July 30, which numerous school districts have been defying.
Charles Dodson, a former judge representing the parents, said schools are not safe until everyone is masked.
“Because of the Delta variant, our public schools are not safe and secure at this time unless everyone wears a mask,” said Dodson.
Lawyers representing the parents also called upon experts to attest to the need for masks as the Delta variant is till circulating around Florida, and many school districts have announced they have hundreds of students in isolation.
“This does appear to be a more pathogenic virus that’s causing more illness in children in all age groups than the variants that we’ve previously seen,” said Thomas Unnasch, a University of South Florida professor, an expert in disease control.
Unnasch also criticized a Brown University study, which has been cited by DeSantis and the state, saying it does not have data pertaining to the Delta variant.
“The Brown University study, no, would not have reference to any data relevant to the delta variant,” Unnasch said. “It was conducted in the spring of this year … during the (2020-2021) school year, spring semester. It wouldn’t have included anything with the delta variant, which really took off late June, early July.”
While the plaintiffs will likely be using parents supportive of mask mandates, the state is planning to utilize the same tactic, calling upon parents supportive of DeSantis’ mask mandate ban.
The fight over masks in Florida’s schools has been on the forefront of many Floridians’ minds since DeSantis made the announcement last month, and as school districts have opted to defy the state.
The Florida Board of Education (BOE) has gone so far as to threaten withholding of funds to districts equivalent to school board members’ salaries, but the White House and the federal government have expressed their support for the rogue school districts.
While both sides, DeSantis and Democratic critics, claim to be following the science, there is little evidence the lives of Florida’s students are at risk from COVID or its variants.
According to the Florida Department of Health’s (FDOH) COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report: Death Overview, as of August 19, the case fatality rate for all Floridians under the age of 30 is 0.03 percent.
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