A Florida judge rejected a challenge to the state's ban on mandating masks in schools.
Administrative Law Judge Brian Newman rejected the challenge filed by school boards in Alachua, Broward, Duval, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Leon Counties on Friday.
The challenge was dismissed, the judge said, because the school boards "failed to prove that the emergency rule opt-out provisions facilitate the spread of COVID-19 in schools," according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
"On the contrary, the evidence admitted in this case established that the emergency rule opt-out provisions strike the right balance by ensuring that the protocols that govern the control of COVID-19 in schools go no further than what is required to keep children safe and in school," Newman wrote.
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The school boards who filed the challenge are among eight boards that faced state financial penalties after adopting mask mandates for students in their schools. The school districts where the boards reside filed a notice to appeal Newman's ruling on Friday, the Associated Press reported.
The issue of Florida banning mask mandates has generated tension between Florida and the Biden administration, which pledged to back Florida school board members whose pay was docked for defying Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's ban on mask mandates. The Education Department granted an initial sum of $148,000 in September to Alachua County school board members who voted earlier this summer to mandate masks in schools as Florida dealt with a surge of COVID-19 infections spurred by the more-contagious delta variant.
DeSantis, a Republican widely considered to be a 2024 presidential front-runner, has stood firm on banning both mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Florida.
On Oct. 12, DeSantis announced the Florida Health Department fined Leon County $3.5 million for violating the state's ban on vaccine mandates after the county fired 14 employees for not getting vaccinated.
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DeSantis announced Thursday that Florida would be suing the Biden administration for its law requiring private companies with over 100 employees to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, which the governor said is "not consistent with the Constitution."
Original Location: Florida judge dismisses school boards' challenge of statewide ban on mask mandates
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