By Team

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A South Florida appeals court has rejected a request by school boards to move quickly in a challenge to a Florida Department of Health rule aimed at preventing student mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 4th District Court of Appeal has denied a motion to “expedite” consideration of the case, according to a court docket.

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Attorneys for the school boards in Miami-Dade, Leon, Duval, Broward, and Alachua counties took the case last week to the appeals court after Administrative Law Judge Brian Newman upheld the emergency rule, though Leon County later dropped out of the appeal.

The boards filed a motion Monday asking for expedited consideration of the case. The docket does not explain why the court denied the motion Wednesday.

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The emergency rule, issued Sept. 22, said decisions to opt out of student mask requirements are at the “sole discretion” of parents or guardians. Also, it allowed students to attend school if they have been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, preventing districts from requiring quarantines for those students.

The Florida Department of Education has used the rule as a basis to impose financial penalties on school districts that required students to wear masks.

The school boards have argued, in part, that the Department of Health overstepped its authority with the rule, which helped carry out a July 30 executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis. As the case has moved forward, all of the districts have decided to drop mask requirements.

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