TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Governor Ron DeSantis spoke from Two Meatballs in the Kitchen in Cape Coral Friday, discussing COVID-19 cases in Florida and mask mandates in schools.
DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-175, in response to several Florida school boards considering or implementing mask mandates in their schools after the Biden Administration issued unscientific and inconsistent recommendations that school-aged children wear masks.
The Florida Department of Health will enter rulemaking in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education to protect parents’ freedom to choose whether their children wear masks.
A copy of Executive Order 21-175 can be found by clicking here.
I recently had the chance to stop by Two Meatballs, owned by Franco & Luigi for over 13 years. A family-friendly restaurant dedicated to quality and service, they have locations in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Great food and welcoming environment! https://t.co/muQFTxduGO pic.twitter.com/mpAv5sG18d
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 24, 2021
DeSantis says the order will protect "the rights of parents to make this decision about wearing masks for their children.”
“We think that that’s the most fair way to do it,” DeSantis said.
In Leon County, mandating maks in schools has become a heated issue. The debate over masks at the Leon County School Board meeting Tuesday included one man being escorted out after responding to a mask being thrown at him.
On Monday, city leaders, parents, nonprofits, and activists gathered outside Tallahassee's City Hall to urge the Leon County School Board to require masks in schools.
The CDC reversed course this week, recommending vaccinated people wear masks indoors and that everyone in K-12 schools should wear face coverings.
"In Florida, there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no mandates," DeSantis announced to applause. "Floridians have been and will remain free to choose what’s best for them and families and we will protect their right to work we’ll protect the rights of businesses to operate. I’ll protect the right of our kids to attend school in person."
WATCH PRESS CONFERENCE BELOW:
DeSantis stood at a podium that read "Free To Choose" referring to a parent's right to choose whether or not their child will wear a mask at school and The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all individuals, vaccinated or not, should remain masked in a school setting.
DeSantis says he will sign an executive order barring school districts from requiring masks.
"I think this decision about whether parents want their kids to have to wear masks all day in school, I think it's a decision that falls squarely on the contours of the parents," DeSantis said.
On Thursday, Florida recorded its fourth-highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began 16 months ago, reporting 17,589 new cases and 56 new deaths.
Florida, which represents about 6.5% of the U.S. population, is accounting for about 20.4% of the country’s new cases, based on the data the state is reporting to the CDC.
At last check, Florida has nearly 9,000 COVID hospitalizations. If trends continue, the state is expected to exceed 2020's peak in a matter of days.