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Florida Delivers a Blow to Mask-obsessed School Districts

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Posted: Apr 15, 2021 1:00 PM
Florida Delivers a Blow to Mask-obsessed School Districts

Source: AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File

Florida has led the way throughout the pandemic, from avoiding catastrophic mistakes New York and other states made in putting COVID-19 positive patients back into nursing homes to its decision to follow the science on the vaccine rollout, opting to inoculate the state's most vulnerable residents first rather than essential workers. 

Now, Florida is taking its data driven approach to schools.

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued a memo to school district superintendents across the state requesting districts with mask mandates change their policy, arguing the data show they make no difference on the spread of COVID-19.

“Florida has once again proven that one-size-fits-all policies do not meet the unique needs of individual students or their families,” the memo states. “Therefore, we should continue to make surgical—not sweeping—decisions to mitigate large-scale educational disruptions for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.”

One such sweeping approach is the mandatory use of face masks in some schools, he said.  

“Upon reviewing the policies of those districts with mandatory face covering policies, reviewing all districts relevant health data, and factoring in such data points as the percentage of students learning in-person and the relevant population of a county (which is often synonymous with a county’s community health resources), the data shows us that districts’ face covering policies do not impact the spread of the virus,” he noted (emphasis in the original).

He called the use of face coverings a “personal decision” and people should be able to decide for themselves given their unique set of circumstances.

Corcoran also pointed out the use of face masks can be detrimental in certain in-person learning settings, such as in language instruction. Furthermore, the mandatory use of masks has the potential to “unintentionally create a barrier for students and families who would otherwise choose in-person instruction” if masks weren’t required.

He closes the memo by asking districts that currently require masks to change their policy so mask use is voluntary during the next school year.