Florida’s ban on mask mandates is back on — for now.
A Sunshine State appeals court ruled Friday that a lower judge should not have halted enforcement of the mandate moratorium, thereby restoring Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to punish school districts who enforce face coverings.
“1st District Court of Appeals just granted the State of Florida’s request to reinstate the stay — meaning, the rule requiring ALL Florida school districts to protect parents’ rights to make choices about masking kids is BACK in effect!” DeSantis’ spokesperson Christina Pushaw wrote in a tweet.
The decision from the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee means the state can impose financial penalties, such as docking salaries of local school board members, on the 13 school districts that are pushing ahead with a mask mandate.
The state’s governor has argued his Parents BIll of Rights law was created so that parents are given the ability to choose whether or not their children should wear a mask while in class — not school officials.
School districts that do require face coverings allow students to opt-out, but only for medical reasons, not parental choice.
Charles Gallagher, who’s representing a group of parents challenging the law, wrote on Twitter he is “disappointed” by the appeals court decision.
“With a stay in place, students, parents and teachers are back in harm’s way,” Gallagher wrote.
The on-again, off-again legal battle comes from a suit Gallagher and other attorneys filed on behalf of parents who are arguing the governor doesn’t have the authority to ban mask mandates.
On August 27, Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper agreed and then on Wednesday, lifted a stay that prevented the ruling from taking effect — a decision the appeals court then reversed on Friday.
“We have serious doubts about standing, jurisdiction, and other threshold matters,” the judges wrote in the one-page decision.
“Given the presumption against vacating the automatic stay, the stay should have been left in place pending appellate review.”
With Post wires