Just as a Florida court reinstated Governor Ron DeSanti’s ban on school masks, the Department of Education has announced a study of the opt-out policy, claiming it could harm disabled students.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration apparently did not waste time responding to the Republican governor’s recent victory in the ongoing legal battle against mask mandates, with federal education officials announcing a state policy study that allows parents to decide whether their children wear masks in school or not.
In a letter On Friday, Acting Assistant Secretary to Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg said the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office (OCR) would examine parental opt-out policies to determine whether it violates the rights of students with disabilities.
The OCR said it is “affected” that policy “Possibly prevents schools in Florida from providing students with disabilities with equal opportunities for education that have an increased risk of serious illness as a result of COVID-19.”
The investigation into Florida’s compliance with disability protection legislation would be conducted by the OCR Atlanta office, Goldberg said.
In response to the news, DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, said the governor was ready for a fight against what she called “The federal government exceeds.”
“Came with it,” she tweeted.
DeSantis has been a staunch opponent of Covid-19 restrictions, such as mask mandates and lockdowns, since the start of the pandemic, and insisted that parents and children should have a choice whether or not to mask themselves. Last month, he warned that school districts that violate his non-mandate rule could be fined for enforcing them. So far, two counties in Florida out of about a dozen who imposed mask mandates have been punished. Florida Department of Education last month announced it would withhold monthly salary funding earmarked for board members in Alachua and Broward to “Infringes on parental rights.”
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