Sep 2, 2021 - Politics

Florida DOE investigating Hillsborough and Sarasota schools over mask policy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In letters to school boards in Hillsborough and Sarasota Counties, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran threatened to withhold salaries if he didn’t get answers about why the districts are flouting the law by requiring students to wear masks.

  • The deadline to respond was 5pm yesterday.

Between the lines: The letters are dated Aug. 27, the same day Judge John Cooper struck down Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring districts from adopting mask mandates without giving parents the opportunity to opt out.

  • That ruling, which the governor has vowed to appeal, would seem to make DeSantis’ order moot, and let the offending school boards off the hook.

The big picture: At least 10 school boards representing more than half Florida’s public school students openly defied DeSantis’ order and implemented mask mandates. Since Cooper’s ruling Friday, others have scrambled to hold meetings about mask policies.

  • Hernando County schools are now requiring masks on all staff and on students unless parents complete a form, the Hernando Sun reports.
  • And Sarasota updated its policy and will now only accept medical exemptions from licensed doctors, osteopathic physicians and advanced registered nurse practitioners after scores of people were seen lining up to get forms signed by a chiropractor.

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