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Judge rules mask requirements can stay in Florida schools

Ruling was issued in Leon County and is effective immediately.
School bus
Posted at 1:01 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 13:01:47-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. — Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper agreed to set aside a stay on his ruling and blocked Florida's mask mandate ban, effective immediately.

Wednesday morning, Judge Cooper heard arguments on a "motion to vacate stay." With the motion to vacate the stay granted, the governor’s ban — requiring school districts to offer parental opt-outs or face a financial penalty — is now on hold for at least the duration of a forthcoming court challenge in appellate court.

"There’s no harm to the defendants if the stay is set aside," Judge Cooper said. "That the legislatures already said certain policies can be adopted if they comply with the requirements of the statutes. There’s nothing in my judgment from enforcing the full bill of rights. I’m just saying you can’t enforce part of it, which is what the evidence shows."

The back and forth legal battle began after Judge Cooper found the governor’s ban unlawful last month following a lawsuit brought by pro-mask parents. Cooper ruled a 2021 law, the Parents’ Bill of Rights, protects a district’s choice to install protections like a mask mandate provided it meets certain criteria if challenged.

“It has to be reasonable, support a state purpose, has to be narrowly drawn and not otherwise accomplished by other means,” Cooper said.