DeSantis executive order may forbid Florida college from requiring Covid vaccines

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A Fort Lauderdale school is about to test the governor’s opposition to vaccine passports.

Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Dr. Harry Moon of Nova Southeastern University announced that the school had decided to require Covid-19 vaccinations for students, faculty and staff before resuming in-person instruction in the fall.

“We know now that it’s safe, or safer, if we create barriers or space around people,” said Dr. Moon. “It’s safer if you wear a mask. Safer if you wear two masks. It is safest today to be vaccinated.”

Reporters immediately brought up Governor Ron DeSantis’ previous statements opposing so-called “vaccine passports,” to which Dr. Moon tried to respond.

“The legality of it will be decided in whatever method there is, but these are the steps we are taking,” said Dr. Moon. “I’d anticipate that [a potential legal battle] would probably occur, but I think what we’re doing is the safest path forward.”

Hours after Dr. Moon’s comments, DeSantis issued the executive order, which prohibits businesses in Florida from “requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business.”

“We’re not going to do [vaccine passports],” said DeSantis earlier in the week during a press conference. “It would be an unprecedented expansion I think of using this with public or private power, and that’s why I think businesses should not be allowed to do this either. It just puts us down a slippery slope.”

8 On Your Side reached out to several schools in Tampa Bay to find out if they were considering requiring students to be vaccinated.

“The University of South Florida does not currently require the COVID-19 vaccine for students, faculty and staff,” wrote Adam Freeman, Director of Media Relations at USF, in an email to 8 On Your Side. “No decision has been made whether the vaccine will be required after it is more widely available.”

A spokesperson for University of Tampa also told 8 On Your Side the school was not currently considering requiring vaccines.

Several students and parents said they liked the idea of requiring a vaccine to return to campus.

“I feel confident in it,” said Catie Valentino, a student at University of Tampa. “If it’s gonna make everyone safer and let us get back to way things were before, then I’m all for it.”

“Kids, especially freshman, wanna have fun,” said Nikola Duncan, parent of a prospective student visiting UT. “They’re away from parents for the first time, it’s their first time to be an adult, ‘adulting’…well, get a vaccine.”

8 On Your Side reached back out to Nova Southeastern after the governor issued his executive order.

“Based on the most current medical and public policy information available at the time, we took these steps to protect the health and safety of our students and staff, said NSU President and CEO Dr. George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D. “We will continue to follow all state and federal laws as they evolve. We will evaluate how we can best protect our community and follow the governor’s executive order.”

The governor’s office also responded to our request about whether Nova Southeastern, as a private institution of higher learning, would be prohibited from requiring a Covid vaccine.

“The Governor’s executive order is clear: COVID-19 vaccine passports in Florida are prohibited,” wrote Cody McCloud, press secretary for Governor Ron DeSantis.

Watch 8 On Your Side’s weekly political show Battleground Florida with host Evan Donovan every Sunday morning at 9:30 right before Meet the Press.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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