Florida Board of Education Gives School Districts Ultimatum on Masks | Top News

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(Reuters) – The Florida Board of Education on Friday told two school districts they would have some of their state funding withheld if they failed within the next 48 hours to provide parents with a way to opt out of a requirement that their children wear masks.

School boards in Broward and Alachua counties have mandated masks in schools in defiance of an executive order issued last month by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that barred local officials from imposing mask mandates.

“These are the initial consequences to their intentional refusal to follow state law and state rule to purposefully and willingly violate the rights of parents,” Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a statement on Friday.

The order was the latest development in the raging debate over mask-wearing in some U.S. states where the coronavirus further exposed deep political fault lines.

Earlier this week, the state Board of Education voted unanimously to punish the two counties for mandating masks.

The Florida Department of Education “will then begin to withhold from state funds, on a monthly basis, an amount equal to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board members who voted to impose the unlawful mask mandates until each district demonstrates compliance,” the statement said.

Florida is battling a resurgence of COVID-19 spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant which is spreading infections mostly among the unvaccinated.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York; Additional reporting by Anurag Maan in Benagaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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