Closing arguments underway in lawsuit over DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA/AP) — Closing arguments began Thursday in a lawsuit over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to ban mask mandates at Florida schools. A ruling in the lawsuit is expected Friday.

A group of parents in Florida, including some in Tampa Bay are suing Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education, challenging their authority to ban school mask mandates.

In late July, the governor issued an executive order that bans mask mandates in Florida schools and gives the Florida Board of Education the authority to withhold funding from districts requiring masks without a choice for parents to opt-out.

At the trial this week, a number of parents testified, saying their children were too young to get the COVID-19 vaccine and needed masks for protection.

At least 10 school boards making up some of the largest districts in Florida are now defying the governor’s attempt to ban local mandates on masks in schools.

DeSantis is not backing down. At a news conference Wednesday, the governor warned of additional consequences for defiant schools districts, but didn’t elaborate. DeSantis contends those boards are violating the Parents Bill of Rights, signed into law this summer. It gives parents authority to direct their children’s education.

“Those schools districts are violating state law and they are overriding what the parents’ judgment is on this,” he said, stressing repeatedly that cloth masks don’t prevent the spread of aerosols.

“If these entities are going to violate state law and take away parent’s rights …. there’s consequences for that,” DeSantis added.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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