FL Board of Education votes to punish 2 school districts that defied DeSantis and mandated masks

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Posted at 12:10 PM, Aug 18, 2021

Florida's Board of Education voted Tuesday to impose punishments against two school districts that have defied Gov. Ron DeSantis and instituted mask mandates.

The board voted in an emergency session to issue sanctions against the school districts in Alachua County (which includes Gainesville) and Broward County (which includes Fort Lauderdale).

The board did not announce how the districts will be punished. They'll be handed down at a later date by the state education commissioner, who is appointed by DeSantis.

Potential penalties against the districts would be the first since DeSantis threatened to withhold funding from schools that mandate masks among students.

The board vote comes as Florida faces surging case rates and hospitalizations from COVID-19. Last week, the White House COVID-19 response team reported that Florida alone recorded more positive COVID-19 tests than 30 states combined.

In fact, some school districts are already seeing outbreaks among students and staff. This week, the Gainesville Sun reported that the Alachua County Public Schools has 535 students and 60 staff members currently in quarantine. In the last two weeks, 59 students and 52 staff members contracted COVID-19, and within the last month, two custodians in the district have died of the virus.

The White House has already expressed support for Florida school districts that choose to defy DeSantis' order against mask mandates. Earlier this week, the Biden administration sent a letter to DeSantis saying that any school whose funds are cut for upholding a mask mandate will be reimbursed with federal funds.