Schools in Leon County, home to the capital Tallahassee, are set to become another school district in Florida to institute a mask mandate for students that does not give parents the choice to opt out, in violation of a government order. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisSchool’s Mask Battle Takes Over Texas AP Tells DeSantis To Stop Assistant’s “Stalking Behavior” (R).
Rocky Hanna, superintendent of schools for Leon County, announced in a video on Facebook on Sunday that the district will require masks for kindergarten to eighth graders starting Monday.
âI am aware that I am the first elected principal to take such a step. I am also aware, fully aware, of the consequences I could suffer, âhe said.
“Governor, I have an obligation to uphold the laws of the state of Florida,” he added in a direct message to DeSantis. “However, I have a greater obligation to protect the health, safety and well-being of the children of Tallahassee and Leon County.”
Initially, Hanna said he wrote to the DeSantis office a week before the students returned to class earlier this month to ask for more “flexibility” in the governor’s order that allows parents not to oblige their children to wear face covers in schools.
âLocal hospitalizations in the first week of August started to increase, and some of our children were starting to get sick from the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus,â he said.
Hanna said he wanted more leeway to temporarily require masks for “pupils aged 5 to 11 in our elementary schools and colleges”, calling them “the most vulnerable as they are not yet eligible to go. get vaccinated “.
But Hanna said he never received a response. Two days before the start of school, he announced that the district would require masks with a medical exemption option.
On the same day, Hanna said she “received a very harsh and threatening letter” from Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, claiming that the new policy violated state law and that if the district moved forward, Hanna and “Leon County School Board members are said to be held in violation and face the maximum penalties prescribed by law.
The Hill has contacted the DeSantis and Corcoran offices for comment.
As a result, Hanna said he and the board decided to open the school with a K-12 mask policy that included medical exemption but also an “option to withdraw individual freedoms. for parents who claimed that wearing masks was a violation of their parental rights “. ”
However, Hanna said he and school officials had agreed they would be “very strict in monitoring” infections and would consult legal counsel for options if they felt they needed to bring more. mask policy changes.
Hanna said the district ended up doing an about-face on policy on Sunday after registering more than 245 positive cases in the seven days the students were in school, which he said was almost a “third of the total we had from all of the last days. year.”
âI am totally in favor of individual rights and freedoms and the rights of parents; however, I firmly believe that my rights end when they infringe the rights of others, âhe said. âIt has also been well documented by the vast majority of healthcare experts that these masks don’t just protect the person wearing the mask; more importantly, they protect the child next to them, and for me, your rights end when that child’s rights are violated.
Hanna asked DeSantis to reconsider their stance on masks in schools and “return local control to school districts to do what’s best for the children in our community … just as you fight to protect the sovereignty of the world. ‘State of Florida’.
âWe just ask you to have the same consideration for us. Leaders should never let pride or politics cloud their better judgment, âhe added.
Hanna’s decision comes days after the Florida Board of Education warned two other school districts that they could lose funding if they don’t comply with DeSantis’ orders.