‘Literally losing our workforce’: Florida schools defy DeSantis’ anti-mask order

“As controversial as it may be, I absolutely believe this is the right thing to do temporarily until we have a better understanding of the Delta variant and the impact it has on school-aged children,” mentioned Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna on Wednesday.

The state Department of Health reported 10,785 new Covid-19 infections in kids underneath 12 years outdated between July 23 and 29, whereas greater than 11,500 hospitalizations had been reported Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentioned that Florida noticed greater than 50,000 new infections and 100 deaths over a latest three-day span. Florida now makes up roughly one in 5 new infections in America.

Amid this spike, college districts throughout the state are trying to craft new guidelines to maintain youngsters secure whereas additionally following DeSantis’ orders. In Duval County, college officers voted Tuesday to make masks obligatory for college kids — with the caveat that folks can choose out of it.

DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw, nonetheless, mentioned state companies are finalizing well being and training emergency guidelines this week that enable dad and mom to decide on whether or not their youngsters put on masks.

“School districts will be expected to allow parents to make this choice,” she mentioned.

Many different Florida college districts are requiring masks for lecturers, guests and distributors on campuses. But Alachua, Leon and Broward are among the many first to push for masking college students regardless of DeSantis’ order. School leaders acknowledged that implementing obligatory masks guidelines on the behest of DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran may finally harm them financially if the state fights again.

“Corcoran and his team — they will come after our money,” Leanetta McNealy, Alachua County’s college board chair, mentioned Tuesday. “I’d rather them come after our money than we’re putting people in [funeral homes].”

In Alachua, college officers see it as a matter of life or loss of life. Besides the 2 janitors who died, the college district is coping with 15 optimistic Covid-19 instances, with lessons days away from beginning, Carlee Simon, the native college superintendent, mentioned Tuesday.

Alachua’s college board, which represents some 28,000 college students across the Gainseville space, is anticipated to reexamine its district-wide masks requirement on Aug. 17.

“We’re running into a situation where we are literally losing our workforce,” Simon mentioned.

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