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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at a press conference in Lakeland on Aug. 21. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Florida judge ruled Friday that school districts can require students and staff to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, saying Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order banning the mandates was "without legal authority," according to AP.

Why it matters: Multiple Florida school districts have defied DeSantis' order despite threats from the governor to withhold state funding from schools that don't comply.

  • DeSantis' order ignores recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The governor maintains that it should be up to parents to decide whether their child should wear a mask.

What they're saying: Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper said a school district’s decision to require masks to prevent the spread of the virus is reasonable and limited in scope and necessary to protect public health, per AP.

By the numbers: DeSantis issued the order, despite Florida experiencing a spike in new infections largely due to the Delta variant.

  • Florida reported 21,765 new cases and 901 deaths from the virus on Thursday, according to the Miami Herald.

The big picture: The Biden administration announced in August that it would give financial assistance to schools defying executive orders that ban mask mandates for students and educational staff.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a similar order effectively banning mask mandates.

Go deeper: Coronavirus case surges force school closures

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.

Oct 18, 2021 - Health

Over 30 states have limited officials' public health powers

Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

Republican lawmakers in more than 30 U.S. states have weakened health officials' authority to implement policies to protect the public against the coronavirus, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers in all 50 states have introduced bills to curb state and local officials' public health authority.

Top Democrat predicts "nastiness" for Florida's 2022 legislative session

The Florida Capitol. Photo: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nothing about Florida's current political discourse would lead you to believe that our representatives are nearing something resembling peace and understanding — and that's not changing anytime soon.

What's happening: State Rep. Evan Jenne, the House Democratic caucus' co-leader, expects a "knock-down, drag-out" legislative session next year, full of "nastiness and controversy" ahead of the 2022 midterms, per Florida Politics.