The School Board of Broward County is standing its ground against the demand from the State Board of Education that it moderate its mandatory mask policy to include a broad opt out clause for parents.
“What we have stated to them is that we do believe that it is an overreach of their authority, that we are legally compliant and we have respectfully requested that they rescind the order,” said interim superintendent, Dr. Vickie Cartwright.
“So we feel very strongly that we’re using every tool in our tool box to fulfill our constitutional obligation of providing a safe and healthy school environment for our students,” added school board chair, Dr. Rosalind Osgood.
In its response to the Board of Education, Broward County Public Schools argues that locally elected school boards are empowered by the state constitution to make health and safety policies for their schools, and require everyone to wear a mask and follow the best expert guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We know that wearing a mask could potentially prevent us from dying or being impacted by COVID-19, we also know that there is no data or case where somebody wore a mask and they died from just wearing a mask,” Osgood said.
However, there are some who refuse to follow the mandate.
“No she’s not putting on a mask, she has a right to go in, this is illegal what you’re doing,” said Dan, a father in a video he recorded as he tried to get his daughter, a sophomore, into Fort Lauderdale High School without a mask.“I brought them a printout of the Parent’s Bill of Rights, the law, all to demonstrate that what they’re doing is illegal, and I wanted her to go into school,” the father told NBC 6.
He maintains that masks do more harm than good and will keep using the issue regardless of what experts say.
“There is no scientific evidence that states masking is harmful to children,” said Dr. Lisa Gwynn, a pediatrician and president fo the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
That group, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strongly recommends all students and teachers mask up in schools to mitigate the spread of the Delta variant.
“I don’t care, the school board policy is illegal, and she’s not gonna put on a mask, no matter what, it’s not gonna happen,” Dan said.
He also told NBC 6 that since private school options do not work for his family, he will continue his crusade to get his daughter into Fort Lauderdale High maskless.
To put his fight in perspective, a school district spokesperson told NBC 6 they know of only one other student, among 260,000, who has so far refused to wear a mask at school.
Broward’s policy allows opting out of mask wearing if a student has a verified medical reason to do so.
The school board claims that is enough to allow it to comply with the governor’s order. Seven other school districts in the state, including Miami-Dade, have adopted similar policies in defiance of Tallahassee.