On Monday, Gov. Lee signed executive order 84, which will give parents and guardians the ability to “opt their child out of a local mask mandate enacted by a school or health board.”
Here’s what Gov. Lee said:
I want to acknowledge the frustration and fear that many are feeling – fear of COVID and its effects on your family, fear of government intervention and its effect, and frustration over everything from masks to information that changes by the day.
Right now, some of the greatest frustration is occurring in our K-12 schools, especially around the issue of mask mandates. While local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important.
No one cares more about the health and well-being of a child than a parent. I am signing an executive order today that allows parents to opt their children out of a school mask mandate if either a school board or health board enacts one over a district.
Districts will make the decision they believe are best for their schools, but parents will have the ultimate decision-making for their individual child’s health and well-being. I will not be calling a special session at this time.
“A student’s parent or guardian shall have the right to opt-out of any order or requirement for a student in kindergarten through twelfth-grade to wear a face-covering at school, on a school bus, or at school functions, by affirmatively notifying in writing the local education agency or personnel at the student’s school,” the executive order says.
In the midst of ever-changing COVID-19 guidance and intense debates surrounding school board decisions regarding mask-wearing for children, the decision comes as kids go back to school.
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas is fighting a legal battle with local districts that want to overturn his executive order against mask mandates and impose their own limits on regions and schools.
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, has been fighting local officials in his state who want to make mask-wearing mandatory, despite his executive order giving parents the opportunity to decide whether or not their children should wear masks.
The Biden administration further involved itself in the debates going on in the Republican governors’ states, last week.
“Fox News reported Saturday that U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote a letter to DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran informing them that the federal government would provide funds to school districts that defy the governor’s order and risk losing state funding,” As The Daily Wire reported.
Cardona wrote, “Florida’s recent actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts students and staff at risk.”
Cardona added, “We are eager to partner with [the Florida Department of Education] on any efforts to further our shared goals of protecting the health and safety of students and educators, If FLDOE does not wish to pursue such an approach, the Department will continue to work directly with the school districts and educators that serve Florida’s students.”
Cardona sent a similar letter to Abbott, saying that the Department of Education “stands with” the educators who are “working to safely reopen schools and maintain safe in-person instruction.”