Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threw down the gauntlet Monday, saying that any school officials – superintendents and school board members – could have their paychecks stopped should they decide to ignore the ban on mask mandates in schools.

In July, DeSantis signed an executive order to ban mask mandates in schools.

Monday’s statement from Gov. DeSantis read in part, “For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law.”

The Gov.’s office also added, “The governor’s priorities are protecting parents’ rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs.”

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The Latest COVID Numbers In Florida

Democrats, including President Biden, have attacked DeSantis’ anti-lockdown policies, arguing that by banning mask mandates and other COVID precautions, DeSantis is responsible for the surge in COVID cases in the Sunshine State. 

The Miami Herald reports that The Florida Department of Health released the daily case count for the state over the past weekend. For Friday, the number was 21,500 cases, Saturday was 19,567, and Sunday, cases totaled 15,319, bringing the three day average to 18,795.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported that there were 13,977 hospitalizations throughout Florida. The CDC reported 239 COVID deaths over Saturday and Sunday.

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DeSantis Goes Head To Head With Biden

Biden and his administration have decided to go after Ron DeSantis for his handling of COVID in Florida. Biden singled out Florida and suggested that DeSantis “get out of the way” of “people trying to do the right thing.”

DeSantis wasn’t having any of it, turning the tables and pointing to Biden’s immigration policies as a measure of his sincerity:

“This is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to, quote, ‘shut down the virus,’ and what has he done? He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide open southern border – you have hundreds of thousands of people pouring across every month. Who knows what new variants are out there? But I can tell you, whatever variants there are around the world, they’re coming across that southern border.” 

As to ‘getting out of the way, DeSantis retorted, “But let me tell you this, if you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way, I’m not going to let you get away with it.”

When asked about DeSantis’ comments, Biden replied, “Governor Who?”

The back and forth continued with DeSantis saying,“I guess I’m not surprised that Biden doesn’t remember me. I guess the question is ‘What else has he forgotten?”

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Mask Mandate Facing Legal Challenges

Gov. DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates is facing several legal challenges

One suit was brought on behalf of a father whose youngest child is too young to receive a vaccine and suffers from asthma. 

The suit cites the high number of COVID cases in Florida and cites the Florida Constitution which says, “adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools.”

The second suit cites the same clause in the state constitution about safe and secure schools, and allows counties the power to govern themselves. It also argues that DeSantis’ executive orders take away decision-making ability from elected school board members. 

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the Biden administration is looking into ways it might be able to spend COVID relief funds to pay Florida teachers and other school officials if DeSantis follows through with pay cuts for defying mask mandate bans.

 

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