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Broward County Public Schools vote to maintain mask mandate despite Florida governor’s executive order to leave masks up to parents

The Board voted 8-1 to keep the mask mandate in place, allowing exceptions for health and safety concerns only. Broward County schools started school Tuesday.

“You can’t ignore this pandemic. It’s deadly, and it’s getting worse instead of better and the more we don’t use masks, the more we position the mutation of this virus to grow,” said Dr. Rosalind Osgood, school board chair, during the special board meeting Tuesday.

Broward’s latest vote sets up a showdown with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who in July issued an executive order requiring the state’s health and education departments to create rules that allow parents — not schools — to decide whether their children should wear masks. The order effectively prohibits mask mandates in school districts.

The governor’s office Monday said the state’s Board of Education could move to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who disregard the governor’s executive order.

“I’m not negotiable when it comes to the mask,” Osgood said prior to the meeting Tuesday. “The masks are to protect everyone, and no person has the right to risk another person’s protection.”

Jenna Hague speaks at the Broward School Board's emergency meeting on Wednesday, July 28, in Fort Lauderdale.

“I have to choose people. They are priority, and whatever the consequence is for loving and caring about people and wanting them not to be impacted and killed by a pandemic or have their life negatively impacted by a pandemic is a price that I’m willing to pay,” Osgood said.

Several lawsuits have since been filed challenging the constitutionality of the executive order. Several school districts are considering mask mandates and a few have said masks will be required, with some opt-out exceptions.

Other school districts that have defied DeSantis’ executive order and instituted a mask mandate include Leon County, which includes Tallahassee; Alachua County, which includes Gainesville; Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa; and Orange County, which includes Orlando.

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