TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — During a press conference on Thursday morning, Ag. Commissioner Nikki Fried encouraged school districts to violate the governor’s new order threatening to withhold money from those who install mask mandates.
“School boards — stand up," Fried said. "Do what is right. We will get your back.”
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Fried said each community knows what is best, be it county by county or school by school.
"I have been very clear that every community knows what's best for the home community," said Fried. "That's why we have local school districts that are all elected by the community. We have local and City, County Commissioners that are all local, locally elected. And so every community is different. And the local communities and school boards should have the power to make the right decisions for their own communities, one, one county that may have, you know, one school and everybody gets busted. And so you're busing everybody together is different than potentially another community, that people are driving into schools. And so every community is just a little bit different. And that's why they have to have the power to make the decisions that is right for their own specific communities."
Fried says she’s not sure if DeSantis' order is constitutional and is looking at possible funding streams to support schools that lose money, including help from the federal government.
This has been a difficult week in our state. For the third day in a row, Florida #COVID19 hospitalizations hit a new record high. We need Floridians to #GetVaccinatedNow. And our state should be welcoming any & all assistance — not smacking away a helping hand. https://t.co/1ssKDYNIR5
— Commissioner Nikki Fried (@NikkiFriedFL) August 4, 2021
When asked about the roundtable DeSantis held with hospital CEOs on Wednesday, Fried said many doctors and hospitals that weren't at the round table, including Memorial that is sounding the alarm in Jacksonville.
Fried said many hospitals across the state are at capacity, non-emergency procedures and elective procedures are being canceled, and people are being turned away. She also said the Florida Hospital Association said Wednesday it expects 60% of hospitals in the state to face a critical staffing shortage in the next week.
"I can't tell you how many times throughout the course of the day, I'm hearing from parents and from teachers who don't know what to do next," Fried said. "They're going to their school board meetings. They're talking to their schools to talking to their fellow parents. And they're lost about how to protect their kids at this moment. And the worst part of it is it doesn't have to be this bad. We have the answers. We all know how to get in front of this. get vaccinated, listen to our public health experts and follow recommended recommendations on mass guidelines, we can control this virus."