Florida governor to order schools to allow parents to decide on masks

FILE PHOTO: Florida Governor Ron Desantis speaks during a campaign rally by U.S. President Donald Trump at Pensacola International Airport in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo/File Photo

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Friday he planned to issue an executive order giving parents the right to decide whether their children will wear a mask at school, a move that would thwart mandates put in place in two of the state’s counties.

School districts in Broward and Gadsden counties said recently students would have to cover their faces when classes start next month, setting up a clash with the governor, who has taken a hard line stance against vaccine and mask requirements.

“In Florida, there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida,” the Republican governor said on Friday during a speech in Cape Coral announcing the executive order.

The mandates in Broward and Gadsden countries follow the recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all students, teachers and staff wear masks regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

DeSantis did not say when he would sign the order, and the governor’s office did not immediately respond to inquiries.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; editing by Diane Craft and Steve Orlofsky)

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