One Florida school district is under fire for its apparent efforts to bypass an existing ban on mask mandates in public schools.
According to Newsmax, Broward County Public Schools is set to hold an emergency board meeting to determine how administrators can implement a mask mandate without being hit with a penalty under the ban implemented by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Employees, vendors, and visitors”
The district notified parents of its plan in an email delivered Thursday afternoon.
“Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases during the holidays driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, the BCPS School Board will be holding an emergency school board meeting on Friday, December 31, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. to review and possibly revise Policy #2170 for employees, vendors, and visitors,” the email explained, according to Newsmax.
If successful, the board indicated that the new mandate “could result in the requirement for employees, vendors, and visitors to wear face coverings while indoors” starting on Monday.
Of course, the obvious problem for school board members lies in the language of a bill signed by DeSantis last month.
Although it is not quite clear what the penalty might be for a violation, the bill sought to reinforce earlier orders by banning school districts from implementing mask requirements.
“As a mitigating factor”
Because of the bill limiting its authority, the board acknowledged that students will not be forced to mask up at school.
Nevertheless, the school district “highly encourages students to wear face coverings as a mitigating factor to help control the spread” of the latest variant.
“Parents, guardians, and caregivers are urged to send their children to school wearing face coverings,” the email concluded, along with a plea to keep children who are ill or were exposed to COVID-19 at home.
While it is likely that the board would have preferred an order that also mandated masks for children, DeSantis anticipated such an effort and preemptively prevented it. The county noted that anything further than requirements for employees and visitors is outside of its control.
It appears that the school would not be subject to a penalty for mandating mask use by employees, but it remains to be seen whether any impacted staff members will challenge the proposed revision.