Gov. Ron DeSantis left no doubt where his administration stands on mask and vaccine mandates and related issues during a press conference Thursday, Sept. 7, at Culhane’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Jacksonville.
Citing examples elsewhere in the country where such measures are being re-introduced in anticipation of a projected resurgence of COVID-19, the governor and presidential candidate leveled criticism at authorities and like-minded allies supporting the actions.
“They are trying to do this again, and what we in the state of Florida will say is: 'No,'” he said.
He singled out “bureaucrats, both White Houses of the last two administrations, the media.”
DeSantis pointed out a revisionism among some, unnamed, persons who had supported school closures but are now denying their original positions.
“People act like, ‘On, no, we didn’t oppose the kids being in school,’ even though they sued me to try to close the schools,” DeSantis said.
Florida did close schools in March 2020, but allowed them to reopen for the 2020-21 academic year. The Florida Education Association filed suit against DeSantis and others on July 20, 2020, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent that. In 2022, a study by the National Center for Education Statistics attributed a decline in reading and math scores to the impact of the pandemic, though the reasons were multifaceted.
Some have claimed that masking small children in school inhibits learning because it inhibits communication.
“If you give these people an inch, they will take a mile,” DeSantis said. “And so, in Florida, not only did we stand in the fight when it was happening, but we’ve enacted permanent protections against these policies now and in the future for Floridians … So, you as a parent can send your kid to school, and the school can’t force them to wear a muzzle all day … You also have a right as a Floridian to earn a living regardless of whether you want to take the latest COVID-19 booster shot or not.”
In May, DeSantis signed legislation that addresses a host of policies associated with COVID-19. That follows legislation passed in November 2021 addressing similar issues.
For a summary of the legislation, click HERE.
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