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DeSantis' COVID-19 Executive Orders Do Not Affect Schools

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Kelly Sikkema
The Florida Channel
Local school district policies related to the pandemic won't change because of the governor's executive orders issued Monday.

The state Department of Education's clarification comes after questions arose about the impacts of the orders on school districts.

The Florida Department of Education advised school districts they won’t be affected by two executive orders that Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Monday to block local governments’ COVID-19 emergency orders.

Executive Order 21-101, effective July 1, mandates that “any emergency order issued by a political subdivision due to the COVID-19 emergency which restricts the rights or liberties of individuals or their businesses is invalidated.”

Executive Order 21-102 suspended “all local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses” and went into effect immediately.

The Department of Education said in an email that questions had arisen about the impacts of the orders on school districts.

“To clarify, EO-21-102 only impacts city and county governments, and does NOT impact school districts and individual schools. Moreover, EO-21-101 and EO-21-102 only (impact) restrictive COVID-19 orders/ordinances that are adopted through emergency enactment,” the department’s guidance said.

The department also wrote that neither order will “impact any school district’s policies for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.”

As many districts continue to require people to wear masks on campus, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote a letter to school superintendents last month asking that districts drop mandatory mask policies. Corcoran wrote in the letter that face coverings “are a personal decision and certainly families and individuals should maintain their ability to make a decision that is unique to their circumstances.”