Parents challenge Fla. governor’s mask-mandate ban; 3 teachers die within 36 hours

AP
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MIAMI (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mandatory school mask policies faces a challenge in a Tallahassee courtroom on Friday afternoon.

DeSantis has repeatedly said it should be up to parents to decide whether their children will wear masks in classrooms.

But with infections from the delta variant surging, some school districts are following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instead.

The lawsuit says the mask ban violates Florida’s constitution, which grants power solely to local school boards to operate, control, and supervise classes within their districts.

The parents also claim that while it may be safe to operate schools in some areas of the state without masks, it is not safe to do so in “crisis” areas of Florida which includes Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

In Broward County, where classes have not started, two elementary school teachers and a teacher assistant, all in their late 40s, died from COVID-19 in a 24-hour span earlier this week, the teacher’s union said in an emailed statement. The three were unvaccinated.

Union president Anna Fusco had previously told WFOR-TV in Miami on Thursday that it was four teachers, but the union later said the fourth death was a Broward County Public Schools graduate with close ties to the school district through her job.

Teachers in the nation’s sixth-largest district were on campus preparing for the start of school on Aug. 18th.

In some counties, students and teachers who returned to classrooms only days ago are already under a COVID-19 quarantine.

In Palm Beach County, officials said they ended the second day of classes with 440 students sent home to quarantine because of 51 cases detected among staff members and students.

Orange County’s school system reported 333 total cases after classes began this week, with 20 teachers and 39 students still quarantined.

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