Florida Board of Education approves sanctions on eight school districts over coronavirus mandates

The Florida Board of Education on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of sanctioning eight school districts with mask mandates that do not allow parents to opt out.

The eight districts — Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach — could potentially face funding cutbacks if they do not show that they have complied with the state government's order, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The superintendents from the eight school districts were allowed to state their position on Thursday. According to the newspaper, the school district leader spoke out in support of their mask mandates, pointing to the drastic rise in COVID-19 cases they have observed.

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Duval superintendent Diana Greene said her school district reported nearly 500 COVID-19 cases within eight days of the school year beginning. She added that 10 employees died within the first two weeks of the school year.

“At less than one week, we were already at 19 percent of the total cases reported for the entire 2020-21 school year," said Greene.

“The Florida Department of Health’s inability to conduct timely case investigations had a direct impact on the spread of the virus throughout our schools, ultimately jeopardizing the health and safety of students and employees,” Greene added.

Leon County superintendent Rocky Hanna offered to give up his own salary if his district is penalized for its mask mandate, the Times reported.

Numerous Florida school districts have found themselves directly at odds with the Florida state government with year, as school officials defy Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills A sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor Walt Disney World pauses vaccine mandate after DeSantis signs new legislation MORE' (R) executive order banning mask mandate. DeSantis' ban on mask mandates has been argued about back-and-forth in courts, with judges ruling against and reinstating the measure.

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These districts have found an ally in President BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE, with his administration financially reimbursing districts that have been penalized for going against DeSantis' order.

In September, the Department of Education gave nearly $148,000 in funding to the School Board of Alachua County.

“We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them,” Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaHillicon Valley — Immigrants being put in surveillance programs Senate Democrats urge government to do more to protect K-12 schools against hackers Democrats call on Education secretary to address 'stealthing' at federal level MORE said in a statement at the time. “We stand with the dedicated educators in Alachua and across the country doing the right thing to protect their school communities.”