Florida appeals court rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ ban on school mask mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has been nothing less than a champion of personal freedoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, he ordered a ban on schools enacting mask mandates for students, and since that day, the legal battles have been a roller coaster.

But according to the Washington Examiner, the good guys received a critical victory this week as the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled in favor of keeping DeSantis’ actions against mask mandates in place in the form of a stay, overturning a previous ruling that went against the governor’s orders. 

Last month, DeSantis pledged to withhold the salaries of officials in school districts who violated his order and issued mask mandates, prompting President Joe Biden to wield his influence on the matter by threatening to withhold government funds if such practice remained in place.

Back and forth

Banning mask mandates in Florida schools sparked cheers from those who agreed that children shouldn’t be muzzled all day while trying to learn, and it sparked outrage among the die-hard mask police who believe that little children wearing thin cloth masks actually make a difference.

The mask ban faced immediate legal challenges as several school districts in the state very much desired to mask children, no matter the prevailing science. The same held true for a number of groups of parents.

The aforementioned districts and parents secured a victory on Wednesday, as a judge shot down DeSantis’ mask ban. But the victory didn’t hold for long, as just a few days later, an appeals court ruled in favor of the Republican governor.

The governor’s office was happy with the court’s decision to reinstitute a stay on the mask ban, noting as such in a statement.

“Just like last year in the school re-opening litigation, the First District Court of Appeal has reinstated Florida’s ability to protect the freedom for parents to make the best decisions for their children while they make their own ruling on the appeal,” Taryn Fenske, communications director for DeSantis, told the Examiner.

Angry parents

Not surprisingly, the pro-mask parents in the state, along with their legal representatives, vowed to take the matter to all the way to the top in the Florida Supreme Court.

“We are disappointed by the ruling and will be seeking pass-through jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Florida. With a stay in place, students, parents, and teachers are back in harm’s way,” said Charles Gallagher, legal counsel for the pro-mask parents.

At the time of this writing, it’s unclear when Gallagher will fight the latest ruling in the state’s high court.

For the time being, it appears as if Florida parents who cherish the freedom to make health-related choices for their children will continue to be able to do so.

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