Florida executive order does not actually ban mask warrants in schools, legal experts say

Broward County Public Schools overturned decision to require face coverings, Duval County Public Schools require parents to be able to “refuse” their child to wear a mask, and Alachua County Public Schools limit their mask tenure to the first two weeks of filing.

But several legal experts told CNN that the executive order does not actually ban mask mandates in schools and that it is more of a political discourse than a legal directive.

This is a loosely written riff on the governor’s political views on masking and parental rights rife with totally unenforceable ‘expected’ clauses designed to garnish newspaper, TV and Twitter sound clips, rather than ‘legal support in the event of unavoidable lawsuits, “CNN said legal analyst Paul Callan.

Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault, who specializes in state and local government law, said the same.

“The executive order is nothing more than a glorified press release telling Florida health and education officials to write rules that follow Florida law,” Briffault said.

Luke Wake, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit legal organization that claims to defend Americans threatened by government abuse and abuse, also said he was skeptical.

“I really don’t know how many teeth this has,” Wake said. “It probably depends on its statutory authority to withhold state funds.”

The DeSantis executive order directs the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Health to issue emergency rules that give parents the power to choose whether their children wear masks in class. The order, signed on Friday, also threatens to withhold state funding if districts fail to comply.

The executive order states that DeSantis has the authority to issue the executive order under the Florida Constitution and the Florida Emergency Management Act. The ordinance also says it complies with the state’s Parents Bill of Rights.

“Pursuant to Executive Order 21-175, the Florida Department of Health will enter into the development of rules in conjunction with the Florida Department of Education to protect the freedom of parents to choose whether their children wear masks,” the door said. DeSantis, Christina Pushaw, spoke in a statement.

“We are finalizing emergency health and education rules this week that do not ban masks in schools but will require parents to have the right to remove their children. School districts will have to allow parents to do so. that choice, ”Pushaw said.

Florida is in the midst of a striking increase in hospitalizations for Covid-19, mostly among unvaccinated people, which surpassed the state’s previous peak last July, according to the Florida Hospital Association. Children are generally much less likely to become seriously ill from the virus, but they are not immune and can pass the virus on to others.

Legal experts question the purpose of the order

Wake said the executive order “simply directs state agencies to create rules to protect public health in schools that will respect parents’ wishes regarding the use of their children’s masks.”

“The (executive order) does not explicitly prohibit regulations requiring the use of face masks by children in Florida schools,” Callan said. “The power to regulate this rests with the Florida Department of Health after consultation with the Florida Department of Education, not the governor.”

Briffault said the ordinance did not ban mask warrants but encouraged the Florida Department of Education to ban them, make them optional or require parents to opt out for their children.

Hospitalizations for Covid-19 in Florida up 13% from previous peak in July 2020

Callan says that while DeSantis sends a strong message about masks, his opinions are not binding and his order is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge.

“The decree itself does nothing that has legal consequences,” Briffault said.

“The (executive order) is actually quite toothless in that not all of the articles of law that it invokes do not deprive the Department of Health of its power as the ultimate decision-maker regarding the measures necessary to inhibit the spread of disease. transferable, as set out in Section 1003.22 (3) of the Florida Statutes. “

“Courts are highly unlikely to allow the state to withhold funding from school districts that insist on masking children as a necessary health measure, especially when the CDC recommends the mask,” Callan said.

Callan says opponents of the measure are likely to cite that under Article IX of the Florida Constitution, the state has a duty to educate all children.

“Cutting funding to districts that choose to require masking to prevent the spread of Covid-19, a potentially fatal communicable disease, would violate states’ ‘overarching duty’ to educate all children, not just those who are not. masked, ”Callan said.

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