Florida judge rules against DeSantis' mask-mandate ban

Judge says ban is unlawful and local school boards have the right to set their own policies as long as they're "narrowly tailored."

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A Florida judge ruled against the state's order banning local school districts from implementing mask mandates on Friday

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper held a four-day trial which was held virtually due to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases circling the state. The trial included testimony from health experts and parents in Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee.

The judge said he decided not to issue an injunction against DeSantis himself, saying, “I think the governor will follow the law.”

The ruling is a huge blow to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis who was sued by parents who said that his ban was unsafe.

DeSantis' ban issued an executive order four weeks ago, prohibiting school officials from mandating the use of masks in their districts, promising backlash and the cutting of funding if the ban was disobeyed. 

Cooper said the law was unconstitutional and could not be enforced. 

According to Cooper, school districts have the right to set policies, like mask mandates, as long as they have “compelling state interest” and have a “narrowly tailored” plan of action.

The governor's team has argued that parents should have the final say on masks and that there's no clear evidence that masks protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

The judge’s ruling will allow schools to require masks as the virus surges.

Similar court fights are underway in several other states, including Texas and Oklahoma.

Please check back for updates in this developing story.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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