The Washington Post

Court backs Desantis on mask mandates

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An appeals court on Friday sided with Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, reinstatin­g for now his ban on mask mandates in public schools. The court’s ruling reversed a decision by Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper that had temporaril­y allowed school districts to enforce their mask rules as the court looks at the substance of a lawsuit over the issue.

Also Friday, the Education Department said its Office for Civil Rights is investigat­ing whether Florida was violating the rights of students with disabiliti­es who are at heightened risk of severe illness from the coronaviru­s by preventing school districts from requiring masks. The department has opened similar probes in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

The moves mark the latest salvo in a legal back-and-forth over a controvers­ial July 30 executive order by Desantis (R) prohibitin­g mask mandates in schools.

Desantis says parents should decide whether their children wear masks.

Many parents have disagreed with Desantis on the issue of masks in classrooms, and a group of them sued. Judge Cooper sided with the parents last month.

Desantis’ office appealed, which led to a stay of Cooper’s order. But the judge this week sided with parents, issuing a ruling lifting the stay and prompting another appeal by Desantis.

On Friday, the appeals court judges said they had “serious doubts” about the case brought by parents against the governor.

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