Leon County Schools will start the school year with a temporary mask requirement for pre-K-8 students, unless otherwise noted by a physician or psychologist, the district’s superintendent, Rocky Hanna, said Monday.
The superintendent emphasized that the requirement is temporary, saying he hopes to revisit the issue before Labor Day.
Hanna said he took the advice of Dr. Thomas Truman, a specialist in Pediatric Critical Care with Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. “Dr. Truman, who put it very bluntly, said ‘Rocky, I think the prudent thing to do, especially for children who are most vulnerable, and those are the ones who do not yet have an opportunity to become vaccinated, would be to start the school year off with a mask requirement,’” Hanna said Monday.
“I know this speaks against what the Department of Health said, what our governor said, what our State Board of Education says, and at the end of the day, if something happened and things went sideways for us this week and next week because we started school and heaven forbid, we lost a child to this virus, I can’t just simply blame the governor of the state of Florida. I can’t,” Hanna explained. “And if there’s an out and I didn’t take the out, and I didn’t do what was best for the children here in Tallahassee and Leon County, that’s on me. Every time I looked at myself in the mirror it would be really hard to answer to that guy.”
Earlier Monday Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida’s State Board of Education could move to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who “led to the violation of law” prohibiting mask mandates for school districts.
Hanna acknowledged the governor’s announcement. According to reporting by the Tallahassee Democrat, Hanna told school officials at a meeting Monday afternoon, “you can’t put a price tag on someone’s life, including my salary.”
“We want to make sure that children also have access to a high quality education but they can’t if they’re sick and in the hospital,” he added, according to the paper.