The Biden administration has once again stepped in to provide funding to Florida education leaders who had money withheld by the administration of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in retaliation for imposing school mask mandates. After previously providing grant money to the Alachua County school system, the federal government has now also sent funding to Broward County Public Schools. Broward has taken in $420,957 from federal authorities, after the state began withholding funds in amounts equal to the salaries of school board members who voted for mask mandates.
ICYMI: Broward school district gets federal funds to backfill money withheld by state over the mask mandate issue@EducationFL says it's still considering "all available legal actions" to ensure each district "fully complies with the law."https://t.co/vDusJGicA9 @DavidGoodhue
— Ana Ceballos (@anaceballos_) September 29, 2021
Amid the most recent surge of what’s known as the delta variant of COVID-19, Florida quickly became one of the states with the most new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths — but even these grim statistics, from which no age group was automatically exempt, were not enough to sway DeSantis from his opposition to mask mandates in schools. The measures can help keep people alive — literally, and yet, DeSantis opted to play politics, pretending as though wearing masks was merely a matter of personal choice. What about the many, many other safety precautions taken in connection to schooling? Would DeSantis characterize those as matters of personal choice as well?
The funding for both Alachua and Broward Counties came from the Project to Support America’s Families and Educators (Project SAFE) grant program. Broward County’s interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright commented as follows:
‘We are grateful for the support of the federal government in helping us continue to protect our students and staff from COVID-19. I support our School Board for their focus on doing what is in the best interest of our families to ensure our schools continue to provide safe and healthy learning environments.’
True to form, the DeSantis administration is continuing to stand by its opposition to mask mandates in schools, even as the Biden team provides these funds that subvert its efforts to penalize those imposing such mandates. Jared Ochs, who serves as a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education, self-confidently insisted that the “federal government will not be allowed to circumvent our laws and we will never cede the moral high ground of fighting for the rights of parents to make personal and private health care decisions for their families.” It’s not a moral high ground. It’s a self-serving political position that doesn’t reflect the real-world needs of the people of Florida.