Broward and Alachua counties stick to mask warrants despite financial sanctions

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Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced Monday that the state’s education department has started withholding funds from the two counties over their mask requirements.

Statements from county school principals on Tuesday showed that districts are not backing down from the mandate.

“I am very disturbed by the action of the state. The members of our school board have made the courageous decision to protect the health and lives of the students, staff and residents of this community, and a court has already ruled that they had a legal right to do so. They deserve praise, not punishment, “Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Carlee Simon said in a statement.

“We have already started working with our colleagues in other districts to initiate legal action. We believe this is a necessary step to ensure that Florida districts have the right to act in the best possible way. interest of those they serve. ”

In a meeting with the school board on Tuesday, Broward County Acting Superintendent of Public Schools Vickie Cartwright said the tenure would continue.

“The health and safety of our students, teachers and staff continues to be our top priority,” said Cartwright. “As such, we will continue to mandate the mask knowing that our data, as we examine it, our quarantine data, demonstrates that the use of the mask is helping to minimize the spread of Covid-19.”

Florida’s Covid-19 cases have been on the rise, and the state is one of five that have less than 10% of their critical care bed capacity available, according to Department of Health and Human Services data.

More than 27,000 cases have been confirmed in Florida’s 15 largest school districts since the start of the school year, according to a CNN analysis. At least 45,024 students and staff have been quarantined or placed on “stay at home” directives due to possible exposure to the virus.

Corcoran announced Monday that the state has started withholding funds equal to the monthly salaries of school board members, and will continue to do so on a monthly basis “until every school board complies with state laws and regulations. “.

Broward County has listed nine school board members, who each earn an annual salary of $ 46,773. Alachua County provided salaries for four board members, who each earn $ 40,287 per year.

Broward and Alachua were the first school districts to implement mask mandates that do not include parental withdrawal, going against the governor’s decree.

A total of 12 school districts have now moved forward with similar mask mandates, including Hillsborough, Leon, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Duval, Miami-Dade, Indian River, Orange, Lee and Brevard in addition to Broward and Alachua counties.

CNN’s Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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