DeSantis and Crist are polar opposites on school mask mandates

Congressman Charlie Crist visits Jacksonville after announcing bid to become next Florida governor. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold funding from school districts that implement mandatory mask mandates in the fall, which has drawn blowback from his potential 2022 Democratic opponents.

Gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist made it clear Wednesday that the upcoming school year would look significantly different if he were in charge.

Former-governor, current congressman and announced gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist held a virtual press conference with teachers, parents and a pediatrician, all of which support mandatory masks in schools.

“The data is clear that we have to protect ourselves via face coverings, other mitigation strategies like hand washing and distancing, and most important vaccination,” said Dr. Lisa Gwynn, a pediatrician at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Crist made it known if he were governor, he’d make mandatory masking in schools the policy statewide.

“I know the right thing to do is to have a mask requirement for our kids. Let’s put them first instead of any other political consideration,” Crist said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold funding from school districts that implement mandatory mask mandates in the fall, which has drawn blowback from his potential 2022 Democratic opponents.

Brevard County parent Jabari Hosey said he was considering sending his student to private a private school where masks are mandatory.

“But we would of course like them to attend our public school, which is here in our neighborhood,” Hosey said.

Pinellas County parent Stephanie Cox expressed fear for her 10-year-old son who has Type 1 diabetes.

“I’m concerned. I know that he’s 10, he’s not able to be vaccinated yet,” Cox said.

DeSantis has been criticized for his COVID roundtables being too one-sided.

One thing DeSantis and Crist have in common on this issue is they’re both excluding dissenting voices and they both claim to have science on their side.

“The science is clear on this issue that wearing masks makes you safer than not doing so,” Crist said.

The governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, said this in a statement: “The CDC has not been able to produce any data to support mandating cloth face coverings from any randomized controlled trials.”

Pushaw added that last year, schools with and without mask mandates had similar cases numbers.

Broward County was the first school district to passed a masking mandate for the fall but had not suggested it will reconsider in light of the state’s threat to withhold funding. On Wednesday’s call, a member of the Broward County School Board said the board is considering legal action to fight the governor’s mask mandate ban.

Duval County is requiring parents to undergo an opt-out process if they don’t want their children masked and Alachua County is requiring face masks for the first two weeks of school.