ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — School districts in Central Florida, including Orange County’s, are still battling the state over its mask rules. On Wednesday, Judge Brian Newman delivered a small victory for five of them; in the ruling, he said they can continue to push back against the state’s rule that parents can choose to opt out of having their kids wear masks at school.
What You Need To Know
- A judge ruled against the state’s attempt to dismiss district challenges to mask rules
- Five districts challenge the rule to let parents choose whether to mask kids
- The Brevard County School Board is set to decide Tuesday whether to continue the district mask mandate
- RELATED: Total number of COVID cases in OCPS exceeds last year's total; a concern for some parents
The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) filed for a judge to dismiss the districts' challenges to the mask rule; however, Newman said the FDOH failed to prove that the school districts do not have the ability to fight the department's rules under the law.
“School districts are ‘units of government’ in the state and therefore are eligible to challenge rules that substantially affect them,” he said in the ruling.
The school districts in Orange, Duval, Alachua, Leon, Miami-Dade and Broward counties are also fighting against the state's parental opt-out option in mask policies and wanted data for children in counties that have mask mandates and those that do not.
Newman decided that information is confidential.
He said the districts have not shown the release of this information is necessary to public health.
Some school districts have navigated around the state’s parental opt-out of mask requirements by allowing parents to do so with a doctor’s note.
There is much mask mandate drama continuing across Central Florida. In Brevard County, contentious debate has halted school board meetings. One board member has even been threatened at her home.
School Board member Jennifer Jenkins said that anger has followed her all the way to her home in Satellite Beach, where some protesters have done damage to her property and have even had face-to-face confrontations with her.
“I just thought, 'Man, this is so extreme, this is so intense. This has risen to a totally different level,'” Jenkins said to Spectrum News 13 in a seperate article.
Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference in Titusville on Wednesday, in which he again pushed for parent choice. He brought up parent speakers to back him on that point.
“I support what Gov. DeSantis is doing. He’s trying to protect us as parents, and what our rights are. At the end of the day, that’s all we want. We want someone to hear us, and listen to us, especially our elected officials,” Brevard County parent Devon Marshall said.
On Tuesday, the Brevard County School Board will meet to decide whether to continue mask mandates.