Florida governor's office says state could withhold salaries of officials who enact school mask mandates

Originally Published: 09 AUG 21 17:29 ET
Updated: 09 AUG 21 18:01 ET

    (CNN) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's office said Monday that the state board of education could move to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who disregard the governor's executive order prohibiting mask mandates for school districts.

Last month DeSantis issued an executive order requiring the state's health and education departments to create rules preventing local school mask mandates. Several lawsuits have since been filed challenging the constitutionality of the executive order.

Some school districts are considering mask mandates and at least one has said masks will be required unless the parents opt out.

A statement from the governor's office on Monday says the state board of education "could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members."

The statement says one of DeSantis' priorities is to protect parents' rights.

"I think the fairest thing to do is just say let parents make the decisions," DeSantis said last week at an event at a Tampa hospital.

Florida is seeing a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases. The state reported 134,506 new Covid-19 cases over the last week on Friday, more than any other seven-day period during the pandemic.

The state reported 13,596 new Covid-19 cases among children younger than 12 years old last week, according to data from the Florida Department of Health (DOH).

There were 10,585 new cases for the age group reported the previous week, ending July 29, DOH data shows.

With many Florida children headed back to school this week, the current new case positivity rate for children under 12 is 20.5%, which is higher than the overall state new case positivity rate of 18.9%, according to DOH weekly reports.

The new case positivity rate for the 12-19 age group is 24.3%, according to DOH data released Friday.

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