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Florida Governor Ron DeSantisEva Marie Uzcategui / Stringer / Getty

CAPE CORAL, Florida, July 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) announced today he will sign an executive order banning Florida schools from reimposing mask mandates for schoolchildren as the summer comes to a close. 

DeSantis made the announcement a press conference in Cape Coral Friday, explaining the move is about “protecting the rights of parents” with regard to masks for kids,  Fox13News reported. The order will make masks optional in Florida public schools for the 2021-2022 school year. 

“We think that's the most fair way to do it,” DeSantis said, adding that he and first lady Casey DeSantis would not compel their kids to wear masks. 

“I want to see my kids smiling, I want them having fun,” he said. DeSantis also explained that for masks to have any benefit they must be worn in a precise way, and joked “My kids ain't gonna wear that thing properly.” 

Florida’s Department of Education will now be directed to create emergency rules to explicitly authorize parents, rather than teachers or administrators, to make the decision about whether they want their children to wear masks or not.  

The news comes after DeSantis hinted last week he would block any efforts to force children to wear masks again throughout another school year, telling reporters “[w]e look forward to this upcoming year to be a normal year, to be in person and learn like normal kids.” 

“There’s been talk about potentially people advocating at the federal level, imposing compulsory masks on kids. We’re not doing that in Florida,” DeSantis said. “We need our kids to breathe.” 

DeSantis’ position stands in stark opposition to the American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP), which put out a statement advocating for all children age two and up to wear masks in schools this fall.

The AAP’s recommendation was made despite evidence that children do not significantly spread COVID-19 and research which suggests face masks may pose a risk to children’s health. 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci has also recommended masking for toddlers and children. In an interview on MSNBC, Fauci argued that “unvaccinated children of a certain age, greater than two years old, should be wearing masks, no doubt about that.” 

The move by the conservative governor comes in direct response to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recent reversal of masking guidance, recommending that even “fully vaccinated” individuals begin wearing masks again, particularly in schools.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the CDC’s mask guidance update was based upon “new data,” but the information allegedly used to motivate the change has not been released to the public.  

A report by the Washington Post Thursday said that the CDC’s flip-flop cites “unpublished data” as its scientific rationale.  

According to the Post, the CDC justified the reversal by claiming that “[p]eople who have had their shots and become infected with the delta variant of the coronavirus can harbor large amounts of virus just like unvaccinated people. That means they could become spreaders of the disease and should return to wearing masks indoors in certain situations, including when vulnerable people are present.”  

The CDC has not publicly demonstrated how it arrived at that conclusion, and according to the Post “outside scientists” are requesting the CDC release this “new,” “unpublished data” for review.  

DeSantis’ executive order marks a significant pushback from Republican governors and lawmakers against increasingly heavy-handed federal and local mask and vaccine mandates.  

The order comes on the heels of a crucial executive action by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), signed on Thursday.  

Gov. Abbott’s order bans both mask and vaccine mandates in the second-most populous state in the nation, despite increasing calls from the Biden Administration to force Americans to both take the experimental drug and mask up again. 

“Vaccines, which remain in abundant supply, are the most effective defense against the virus, and they will always remain voluntary – never forced – in the State of Texas,” Abbott said.

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