Florida Surgeon General Signs Off on New COVID Rules for Students


Florida’s new Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Ladapo signed off on new COVID rules for students in Florida’s public schools. Among the new rules is a provision that students will no longer have to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID and remain asymptomatic.

Previously, based on contact tracing, the rules stated that Florida’s students would be required to stay home for at least four days if they were exposed to COVID. Now, the decision is entirely up to the parents.

“Quarantining healthy students is incredibly damaging for their educational advancement,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday. “It’s also disruptive for families. We are going to be following a symptoms-based approach.”

Ladapo made similar comments, saying Florida is “done with fear.”

“We are done with fear,” said Ladapo at his introductory press conference. “That is something that, unfortunately, has been a center point of health policy here in the United States since the start of the pandemic. It’s over here.”

A part of the new rules is the provision that school districts may require masks for their students, but parents must also be permitted to opt out their child from the mask mandate.

“Students may wear masks or facial coverings as a mitigation measure; however. the school must allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt-out the student from wearing a face-covering or mask… Students whose parents or legal guardian have opted them out of a mask or face covering requirement shall not be subject to any harassment or discriminatory treatment, including but not limited to: (a) Relegation to certain physical locations; (b) Isolation during school activities; or (c) Exclusion from any school-sponsored events or activities.”

This decision led to the Administrative Law Judge Brian Newman throwing out a case filed by Alachua, Broward, Leon, and Orange county school districts that had been brought against the state.

With Ladapo’s new rules becoming effective immediately, the previous rules signed off by previous Surgeon General Scott Rivkees have been repealed. The previous rules were the source of the ire for the school districts and their suit against the state.

“The Division of Administrative Hearings lacks jurisdiction to determine the validity of a rule after it has been repealed,” Newman wrote.

Students that test positive must still be out of school, according to the new rules. As well, standard hand-washing, routine cleaning, and “direct contact” protocols remain in place with Ladapo’s new rules.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Studying” by Alachua County Public Schools.







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