The Florida Board of Education determined today that it will provide private school vouchers to parents of students who believe face mask requirements amount to undue “harassment” of children.
Many schools in the United States are still requiring face masks to be worn by students, with only rare breaks, despite science suggesting that children not only are highly unlikely to contract COVID and experience serious symptoms, but that they are also highly unlikely to transmit COVID to adults. Parents in Florida, which has become a symbol of resistance to unscientific COVID-19 policies, will now have the option to take their tax dollars to the private sector with a new voucher program that will allow children to attend private schools that do not require face masks.
According to the Associated Press, the move will take taxpayer dollars earmarked for public schools and instead spend them in private schools. Teachers and unions have, predictably, used this to create “yet another flashpoint in the fight between local school boards and” Gov. Ron DeSantis. However, it appears that this move merely incentivizes schools to drop unscientific mask mandates.
The Board of Education rule “has the effect of law,” said board member Ben Gibson. He added, “If a parent wants their child to wear a mask at school, they should have that right. If a parent doesn’t want their child to wear a mask at school, they should have that right.”
So far only two Florida school districts have opted to follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will require students to wear masks. The decision, however, prompted a lawsuit from over a dozen parents of disabled children who say that their children are physically incapable of wearing masks, and thus will be subject to discrimination from the public school system.
Last week, DeSantis signed an executive order that appeared to ban face masks in schools, calling the CDC’s recommendation a “callous disregard for the physical, emotional, and academic well-being of our children.” He added that masks “may lead to negative health and societal ramifications,” and could also “inhibit breathing, lead to the collection of dangerous impurities and adversely affect communications in the classroom and student performance.”