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Pinellas Parent Group Wants School Board To Reconsider Mask Mandate

Pinellas declined to enact a stricter mandate this past week. After a judge's ruling struck down a state executive ordeer, one parent group said it plans to petition the board again.

A judge's decision overturning the governor's executive order that banned school mask mandates could pave the way for other schools to require face coverings.

In the lawsuit argued this week in Tallahassee, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s attorneys argued his order focuses on the rights of parents, and it supersedes those of the school districts.

But a circuit court judge's ruling backed several parents who sued, claiming the governor's mandates are unconstitutional.

Since the number of students in quarantine from COVID-19 began skyrocketing, 10 districts defied the governor and mandated masks be worn in class.

But the eighth-largest district in the state, Pinellas, declined to do that this past week.

Given the court ruling, one parent group said it plans to petition the Pinellas board again.

“Parental rights can only go so far, when those parental rights start to overlap what the community actually needs,” said Chrissy Krampert, with a parent group called Pinellas Safe Schools. “Masks are effective. But they're only effective if everyone is wearing them.”

Krampert has three children in Pinellas schools She said while she understands the rights of parents to determine what's best for their children, the mask mandate debate is bigger than that.

“I think the issue is that, right now, we're in a group project. And decisions that parents make impact other families. And with the delta variant ravaging our classrooms, we have to think about how can we protect our community at large, not just one person's individual decision,” she said.

DeSantis said he intends to appeal the ruling.

Copyright 2021 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.