By Brooke Shafer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At an event near Tampa on Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis said again he believes parents should be able to decide whether they want to send their students to school with masks.

“Obviously, we believe that the parent rather than the government should ultimately be able to make that decision,” he said.

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Governor Desantis said this is response to a question about mask mandates at an event about bonuses for teachers.

Though he didn’t mention Broward County specifically, the Governor’s response comes the day after the Broward School Board decided to go against his executive order and voted 8-1 to uphold a mask mandate for the start of the school year.

School board members on Tuesday received 350 written notes and heard public comment from 48 people on the topic of masks in schools. Outside school board headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, some parents held up signs protesting the idea of required masks for students, teachers, and staff.


“It just goes to show they’re more concerned with the people than the politics,” said Jim Gard, a high school math teacher at Monarch High School in Broward County. Gard, who is also married to a teacher and has a sophomore son, said he is thankful for the mask mandate.

Gard is vaccinated but recently recovered from COVID-19. He told CBS4’s Brooke Shafer, he had “extreme” concerns about the start of the school year.

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“Well, I mean getting infected. You don’t know how it’s going to affect other people,” Gard said. “I was very lucky, again, being vaccinated. That was a big thing. We don’t need to lose other students and teachers.”

The Broward School Board initially voted unanimously the other week for mandatory masks at the start of the school year. This time, on Tuesday, Lori Alhadeff was the dissenting vote. She said she wanted additional opt-out options.

The opt-out provisions for the masks include those with medical conditions, those who have individual education plans, and students who qualify for section 504 accommodations.

The Governor’s executive order threatened to withhold funding from the district or salaries from board members who continued to implement mask mandates in schools.

Shortly after Tuesday’s vote, two Broward School Board members received a letter from the Florida Department of Education which read in part:

“There is no room for error or leniency when it comes to ensuring compliance with policies that allow parents and guardians to make health and educational choices for their children. Therefore, it is imperative that you work together as the Superintendent and the School Board to remedy this glaring non-compliance.”

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The Broward School Board said it is working with its legal counsel to determine next steps.