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Florida school board votes to keep mask mandate despite governor's pay cut threat

The Broward County School Board has become the latest in Florida to defy a mask mandate ban by voting to keep the requirement for students and staff.

Why it matters: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold the pay of superintendents and school board members who defy the ban, as Florida experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

  • The Florida Department of Education has already sent a letter to the Broward County School Board following the 8-1 vote in favor of the mandate.

The big picture: Several school districts in Florida are pushing back on the DeSantis' executive orders barring schools from issuing mask mandates.

  • It's a similar situation in Texas, where cases are also surging.
  • Two school districts in Dallas and Bexar counties were granted by a judge on Tuesday the "temporary power to issue mask mandates" despite Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's order barring the health measure, per the Texas Tribune.

What they're saying: Broward County School Board chair Rosalind Osgood said during a meeting on the matter Tuesday that they "can't ignore this pandemic," per CNN.

  • "It's deadly, and it's getting worse instead of better and the more we don't use masks, the more we position the mutation of this virus to grow," Osgood added.

The other side: Florida Department of Education commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote in his letter that he was launching an investigation into the matter and demanded the board provide a written response by 5 p.m. this Friday.

  • "This letter is sent to express my grave concern regarding your district's significant neglect in response to the recently adopted Emergency Rule," he wrote.
  • He said the department's emergency order banning mask mandates made clear that such policies imposed by a district or school "'must allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask.'"

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