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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Florida Board of Education voted Tuesday to sanction two public school districts for defying Gov. Ron DeSantis' order barring mask mandates in school, per NBC News.

Why it matters: It marks the first punishment doled out against school officials who have clashed with the Republican governor on the issue. Nearly 6,000 students and over 300 staff members have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19 in one district.

  • The DeSantis administration, which faces legal challenges over the ban, argues that the Alachua and Broward County public school districts went against the order by requiring a doctor's note for students who wish to opt out of mask-wearing. Other districts only require a note from parents.
  • The actual penalties had yet to be announced, but DeSantis has threatened to withhold pay from school officials as retaliation.
  • School officials who spoke before the board called the move necessary, especially in districts with vaccine shortages. Children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccines.

The big picture: DeSantis is one of several governors who have signed laws or executive orders banning mask mandates, though Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, also a Republican, has said he regrets the decision.

  • The Biden administration has offered to step in with financial assistance if DeSantis follows through with withholding funding from schools that implement a mandate.
  • The state reported nearly 3 million cases as of last week and more than 40,000 deaths.
  • Several counties across the U.S. have temporarily suspended school because of a surge in coronavirus cases among students and faculty early in the academic year, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes.

Go deeper

D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive COVID vaccine without testing option

Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Monday that all teachers, school personnel and early child care workers must get vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1 with no option to opt out with weekly testing.

Why it matters: A majority of the D.C. city council urged Bowser to eliminate the weekly testing option for public school teachers and day care professionals, WashPost noted. Bowser's new mandate extended the vaccine requirement without a testing option to all D.C. public schools, charter schools, private schools and child care facilities.

Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, and that his vaccination against the virus prevented a more severe infection.

What they're saying: "Today, I tested positive for COVID-19," Ryan wrote on Twitter. "While I’m currently experiencing mild symptoms, I’m grateful to have the protection of a safe and effective vaccine — and I know without it, this illness could be much, much worse."

  • "What we have learned over the last year and a half is that we are in this together, and I urge all Ohioans to help us crush this pandemic by wearing a mask and getting vaccinated so that we can get back to normal."
Sep 20, 2021 - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.