The school superintendent in Florida’s capital city announced Sunday that masks will be required for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, becoming the seventh district to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on such COVID-19 mandates.
Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna said the district has seen positive tests for the coronavirus skyrocket since school opened Aug. 11 in Tallahassee and its immediate suburbs. He said parents who don’t want their elementary or middle school student to wear a mask will need to get a signed note from their child’s physician or psychologist by Friday.
Leon, which has 32,000 students, initially had backed off on such a mandate after DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said districts could only impose a mask mandate if parents can opt out their children on their own. They have threatened to cut funding from districts that impose stricter mandates and impose sanctions against their elected officials.
Hanna said he is “in total favor of individual rights and freedom and the rights of parents,” but that does not include the right to endanger the health of others.
“I don’t believe that masks are necessarily the end-all, be-all, but we know they make a difference. The vast majority of health care experts tell us they make a difference,” Hanna said in a statement broadcast on Facebook.