The Florida Department of Education is escalating the fight over local school district mask mandates.
Eleven districts across the state currently require students to wear face masks as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, but the state’s education department claims those mandates violate an emergency rule from the new Florida surgeon general.
News4Jax reported last month when the federal government awarded funds from the Project Safe grant program to districts that imposed mandates and in turn were financially punished by the DeSantis administration.
Now, the state is poised to not only withhold the amount of money that those district’s school board members would get paid but also withhold the amount of any federal grants issued to that district.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education released a statement to News4Jax, saying, in part: “It remains deeply troubling to see state leaders putting politics ahead of the health and safety of our students, and those leaders should be supporting educators for doing the right thing – not punishing them.”
"State leaders, including those in Florida, have a duty to keep our children safe – and actively undermining actions that help stop the spread of COVID-19 is an abdication of that duty." - @usedgov Acting Asst. Secretary for Communications & Outreach, Rachel Thomas. #News4Jax pic.twitter.com/CaIklowxHo— Joe McLean (@JoeMcLeanNews) October 5, 2021
The state’s Board of Education is set to discuss the withholding of state funds over those 11 school districts’ mask mandates on Thursday.
That meeting begins at 1 p.m.