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Political leaders take part in Florida schools mask mandate debate

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 10:19 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The mask mandate debate is heating up and furthering the divide between each side of the aisle as Leon County Schools requests the right to mandate masks for some students when school starts next week.

Superintendent Rocky Hannah announced Wednesday that he has asked the governor to allow districts to make their own choices when it comes to the Sunshine State, one of the leaders nationally in a dubious category new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Strong reactions came Wednesday from the very top of the chain and down to local leaders with everyone else seemingly caught in the middle.

President Joe Biden took a direct aim at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Wednesday morning, to which the the Governor shot back during his own news conference in Panama City.

“Joe Biden suggests that if you don’t do lockdown policies that you should, quote, ‘get out of the way.’ Let me tell you this. If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way, I’m not going to let you get away with it. If you’re trying to deny kids a proper, in-person education, I’m gonna stand in your way, and I’m gonna stand up for the kids in Florida,” said DeSantis. “If you’re trying to restrict people, impose mandates, if you’re trying to ruin their jobs and their livelihoods and their small business. If you’re trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way and I am standing for the people of Florida.”

DeSantis’ campaign then used the president’s remarks as fuel for fundraising in an email sent out hours later. His democratic political opponents or next year’s gubernatorial race also jumped into the fray.

“I know the right thing to do is to have a mask requirement for our kids,” Rep. Charlie Crist said. “Let’s put them first instead of any other political consideration.”

Former-governor and now candidate Crist held a virtual news conference with teachers, parents and a pediatrician, all of whom support mandatory masks in schools.

Current AG Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is also a candidate, took to to network news to counter. This all as at least four school districts attempt to navigate the tangled web of politics.

At least four Florida school districts have announced that they are trying to work around the Governor’s Executive Order barring school boards from requiring students to wear masks, including Leon, Alachua, Broward and Duval.

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