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School Mask Mandate Ban Back in Effect

September 3rd, 2021 by Jake Stofan

The state’s school mask mandate ban was already back in effect Friday.

It was reinstated automatically when the the state appealed.

Now that the appeals process has begun the next battle for parents is to try and get the ruling back in place as the case is appealed.

When the state filed it’s notice to appeal the ruling that struck down the blanket ban on school mask mandates the ruling was automatically blocked.

The Department of Education has now informed superintendents, unless the ruling is unblocked, it will continue sanctioning districts that don’t provide parental opt-outs.

“The numbers continue to be very very problematic. Rates are very high,” said Charles Gallagher, one of the attorneys representing parents who sued the state.

Gallagher said parents have already filed a motion to vacate the stay, arguing children could suffer irreparable harm if the mandate ban remains in effect.

“We’re talking about vitally affecting kids’ lives. Kids getting sick, kids possibly dying,” said Gallagher.

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, and the decision will be made by the same judge who issued the ruling striking down the ban in the first place.

If the judge rules Wednesday to allow his ruling to go into effect, the state could then ask the appellate court to block it once again.

The final decision will likely set state masking policy for the bulk of the remaining school semester.

“The appeal is not going to be a quick process,” said Gallagher.

Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran has maintained confidence the state will prevail at the appellate level, like it did in the school reopening case last year.

“Last year it took about 45, 49 days and the court ruled emphatically in our favor and they’re going to do the same thing here,” said Corcoran in an interview last Wednesday.

The Florida School Boards Association told us districts are very closely watching the case.

Their expectation is that the State Supreme Court will weigh in before all is over.

School districts themselves have so far refrained from filing a lawsuit of their own, but several have indicated one may be on the horizon.

A total of 13 districts have adopted mandatory mask policies with no parental opt-out.

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