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Failing To Block Florida’s Mask Mandate Is A Federal Court Decision

According to the New York Times, a federal judge declined Wednesday to block the ban that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is seeking to prevent masks from being mandated for school children in Florida amid the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.

Parents of children with disabilities seeking a preliminary injunction against a July executive order issued by DeSantis allowing school districts to opt-out of mask mandates for students were denied by Miami-Dade Judge K. Michael Moore. Moore notes that the parents should have sought administrative relief before filing suit.

Failing To Block Florida’s Mask Mandate Is A Federal Court Decision

Matthew Dietz, the plaintiffs’ attorney, wrote in an email that he believed the judge misconstrued a US Supreme Court decision regarding the exhaustion of administrative remedies in situations involving disabled children. He noted that administrative preconditions must be exhausted in Florida for at least 75 days, so children with disabilities who would suffer serious injury or death from an infectious disease like COVID-19 might not be able to return to school.

Failing To Block Florida's Mask Mandate Is A Federal Court Decision

Last week, the 1st District Court of Appeal, in a case in state court, ruled that a judge in Tallahassee did not have the authority to lift an automatic stay. As a result, the federal government held off on enforcing the mask mandate ban. Among the claims in the lawsuit is that DeSantis is not authorized to order local school boards to stop requiring masks. Last month, Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper ruled in favor of the county against the state but the state has appealed.

If the court makes its rulings public, the state will have the ability to impose monetary penalties on the school district boards that refuse to rescind the mask mandate policy. Some of these penalties have included docking the salaries of local school board members who voted in favor of mask requirements for students.

As part of a new grant program announced by the U.S. Department of Education, money will be available to Florida and other school districts that incur losses because they implement anti-coronavirus practices like mandatory masks. The federal agency has advised state officials that it would investigate whether the state’s rule prohibiting masks for students with disabilities violates federal civil rights laws protecting the disabled.

DeSantis stressed that it is each parent’s responsibility to decide whether their child should wear a mask to school during the recent debate over the Parents Bill of Rights. A mask opt-out is only permitted for medical reasons at schools with mandatory mask regulations, not for personal preference.

Updates on other important issues

  • According to the latest data, 16 states have obesity rates of 35% or more in 2020, up from 12 states in the year 2019.
  • The Trust for America’s Health reports that changing numbers are partly related to the Coronavirus pandemic, which “broke down barriers to physical activity, altered eating habits, exacerbated food insecurity, and contributed to heightened stress.”
  • Poll data suggests that 42% of Americans have gained undesired weight since the pandemic began in February 2021.
  • A U.S. adult gained 29 pounds on average.
  • The CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System reports that Mississippi had the highest rate of adult obesity in 2020, at 39.7%.
  • Next, West Virginia (39.1%) and Alabama (39.0%) rounded out the top three.
  • By 2020, four states – Delaware, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas – will be on the list of those with a 35% or higher adult obesity rate. Among the 16 states that met or exceeded the threshold are Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
  • The state with the lowest adult obesity rate of any state on the list is Colorado, with a 24.2% rate.
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