‘We’re not joking’: Florida education commissioner defends mask policy

Coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Service) – The list of counties bucking the state and Gov. DeSantis over mask mandates is growing. It comes as Alachua and Broward counties will see funding withheld.

Ten counties are now bucking the state on parental opt-outs from mask mandates, two more since Tuesday. Alachua and Broward, the first two to be told they were not following the law, responded by telling the state, ‘We have the right’.

Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran in an exclusive interview argued the districts must be held accountable.

“We’re not joking,” Corcoran adding. “What is right for the children, what is right is to empower those parents. There is no greater form of local government. No greater form of empowerment. No wiser decision can be made for those children than by the parents.”

Despite recent polling that shows the public overwhelmingly opposes penalties for school districts requiring masks, the state isn’t backing down. 

“You have to follow the rule of law. You have to do what is right. And if you’re are not going to do what’s right, we will withhold your salaries,” said Corcoran.

The state said it will send letters to the remaining counties bucking the state on mask mandates by the end of the week or early next week and while Florida cases continue to rise, the Education Commissioner expects the spike to be temporary.

“We’ll get to the middle of September, everyone will calm down because our cases are declining just like they did last year,” said Corcoran.

New polling out Wednesday found 51% of the public now oppose’s Gov. DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic, but Corcoran said the poll won’t change the state’s direction.

While a suit has yet to be filed by the school districts, it is sure to end up in court. If it does, it will take weeks or even months to be settled. 

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