Broward Schools must reverse mask mandate or risk ‘sanctions,’ Florida commissioner says

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Broward school leaders have until Friday to tell Florida if they intend to comply with state rules on mask mandates that call for an opt-out option for parents who don’t want their kids to wear one.

Broward’s mandate doesn’t have an opt-out option. If the district doesn’t change its mask-requirement policy, the state could invoke “sanctions,” including withholding the salaries of the superintendent and School Board members, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran warned in a letter.

The letter was sent to Broward Schools Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright and School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood late Tuesday, just hours after members voted 8-1 to retain a mask mandate previously approved on July 28.

The mandate requires everyone — students, faculty, staff and visitors — to wear a mask inside schools and on buses for the 2021-2022 school year, with exceptions for students with medical conditions or individual education plans.

Corcoran told Broward officials their rules are “inconsistent” with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ orders, which triggered new rules requiring public school districts to let parents opt their children out of mask mandates for any reason. No doctor’s note is required. School districts that fail to comply could face financial penalties.

Broward School Board members discussed the potential penalties Tuesday before voting on the mask mandate. The School Board also authorized the district to hire outside legal counsel to review and challenge the state’s new rules.

Corcoran says the district has until 5 p.m. Friday to submit a written document explaining how it’s complying with the state’s new rules.

Alachua and Leon counties also received similar letters.

Florida Department of Educa... by Michelle Marchante