Second Circuit Judge John Cooper has ruled against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appeal, allowing Florida schools to continue to have mask mandates while the case is appealed at a higher level.
Effective immediately, the state of Florida must stop their enforcement of a mask ban, which ends sanctions against several school districts who have implemented mask mandates.
DeSantis had appealed Cooper’s earlier ruling that that stated the governor overreached and did not have the authority to ban school districts from implementing mask mandates without a parent opt-out.
That appeal led to an immediate pause on mask mandates while a ruling was made. Thirteen Florida school districts have now implemented a mask mandate, without a parent opt out, defying an earlier executive order by the governor.
Cooper ruled he believed there was not enough irreparable harm to set aside the automatic stay triggered by the appeal.
“It’s undisputed that in Florida we are in the midst of a COVID pandemic. Based on the evidence I’ve heard, there’s no harm to the state if the stay is set aside,” Cooper said.
Cooper added that based on expert witnesses it is clear the only way to protect children who are unable to be vaccinated is to keep children isolated home, which would cause additional harm.
“It's undisputed that the Delta variant is far more infectious than the prior to their prior version of the virus, and that children are more susceptible to the Delta variant than to the form from a year ago,” Cooper said. “In particular for children under 12, they cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, there's really only one or two means to protect them against the virus as either stay at home, or mask.”
Cooper added that based on the evidence young students “arguably have no way to avoid this, except to stay home and isolate themselves.”
“I think everybody agrees, that's not good for them,” Cooper said.