Speaking in Polk County on Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis lambasted states like New Jersey and California, who initially criticized the governor’s decision to reject school mask mandates, but have now lifted them this week, claiming that the mandates were never about science, but maintaining political control.
As children returned to classes in person, DeSantis was a strong proponent of leaving the choice of students wearing a mask up to parents, signing the ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’ into law this summer, enumerating the rights of parents and legal guardians to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of their child. The controversial law granted parents more control over the schools their children attend while aiming to prevent mask mandates to be enforced.
“You know hear a lot of chatter in other states about lifting mask mandates on these little children as if somehow they had an epiphany or even some suggest that the science changed. And let me just tell you: the science has not changed one iota, we knew from the beginning and that’s why Florida never imposed a forced masking policy on school children, and that’s why we fought to liberate the masked kids,” said DeSantis. “You look at other countries and not one was as absolutely insane about making kids as the United States government was. I’m proud to say in Florida we stood up to the Biden administration, we stood with the parents, and we stood with the wellbeing of the kids.”
DeSantis signed an executive order in July that outright prevented the enacting and enforcement of school mask mandates. While most counties complied, a handful including Orange, Broward, and Leon Counties resisted, enforcing mask policies in the face of financial penalties.
“Forcing children to wear masks could inhibit breathing, lead to the collection of dangerous impurities including bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other contaminants, and adversely affect communications in the classroom and student performance.” the executive order stated. “There is no statistically significant evidence to suggest that counties with mask requirements have fared any better than those without mask requirements during the 2020-2021 school year.”
DeSantis also committed to not enforcing the Biden administration ruling that healthcare workers must be vaccinated.
“Now we provided protections in Florida. You know, people they want to try to, you can opt for all these exemptions. You can opt for different things so you can keep your job. And that’s something that’s very important, but this OSHA mandate clearly exceeds the ability of Congress under the law or constitution,” said DeSantis. “If you believe, like the founding fathers believe, that the constitution is one of the limited and enumerated powers, you cannot authorize the federal government acting with basically as like a state police power. This is, they’re saying they’re regulating businesses to impose a vaccine mandate because they know they couldn’t impose the vaccine mandate directly. So this is an attempted end-run around the constitutional structure. We need the Supreme court to come through and rule properly on that.”