Lee School District defends emergency mask mandate | News, Sports, Jobs


The Lee County School District provided a response to the Florida Department of Education, which gave the district until 10 a.m. today to explain its “inconsistency” with a state rule concerning the mandates of masks.

Although an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis calls for parental opt-out provisions for any local mask mandate imposed by school districts, the district has imposed a 30-day emergency warrant based on the number of cases of COVID in Lee County.

The district responded to the DOE by letter, saying the district was in compliance with the emergency rule issued by FLDOH as well as the Parents Bill of Rights adopted in the recent legislative session. He also says that the district is constitutionally “Able to act to protect its students and staff” in the face of the growing number of COVID cases and hospitalizations.

“Last week, the SDLC received 2,866 reports of school exposures and reported positives,” the neighborhood responded. “Due to the above mentioned COVID-19 mainly delta variant cases, the SDLC has had to close ninety-two (92) classrooms since the start of the 2021-22 school year (4 weeks). In comparison, seventy-six (76) classrooms were closed due to COVID-19 within the SDLC during the entire 2020-21 school year. This translates into a 1089% increase in weekly classroom closures and an increase in COVID-19 positive cases and exposures never before experienced in the SDLC before this time. “

The district also posted an abbreviated explanation to parents on the district’s website.

“The Lee County School District has the constitutional duty, statutory authority and primary responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for all students and employees,” the message to parents posted today reads.

“Since the start of this year, students and staff have been hospitalized and employees have died from this deadly virus. We had to close 92 classrooms compared to 76 during the entire 2020-21 school year. This gives more than 1089% increase in weekly classroom closures during a COVID-19 outbreak like we have never experienced before.

“We see 30 days of temporary masking, in conditions much worse than at any time during this pandemic, as imperative to contain the spread of a highly contagious virus, and to protect and potentially save lives.

“It is the position of this district that our temporary masking requirement, along with all of our other mitigation efforts, is necessary, reasonable, narrowly tailored and least restrictive to address the health crisis in our community.”

The local mask mandate came into effect on September 1.

The DOE letter from Commissioner Richard Corcoran was dated September 3 and sent to Superintendent Dr. Ken Savage and School Board President Debbie Jordan. It involved complying with an emergency rule from the Florida Department of Health and also a decision by Leon County Judge John C. Cooper, who found Governor Ron DeSantis to have exceeded his authority when he issued a decree prohibiting such warrants.

“Recent media reports indicate that the Lee County School Board has taken action inconsistent with the emergency rule by limiting or conditioning parents’ ability to opt out of a face covering or mask warrant . Your rationale may be based on Justice Cooper’s recent order; Nevertheless; at this point, an automatic stay is in effect. This means the Department of Education can resume enforcement of the emergency rule from the Florida Department of Health. In the event that the suspension is lifted, the coercive action will be automatically paid ”, Corcoran wrote in the letter.

The State Board of Education oversees the performance of district school boards in enforcing all laws and rules, and the Commissioner of Education may “Investigate allegations of non-compliance with the law or state council rule and determine probable cause.” Because of this law, the commissioner, at the start of the investigation, demanded that the Lee County School District provide a timely written response to document how they are complying with the Department of the Department’s emergency rule. Florida health.

Letter to Education Commissioner regarding face coverings

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