Two Florida parents who filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in public schools argued Monday that the governor’s guidelines on optional mask requirements put their children who already have serious medical conditions at greater risk from COVID- 19 expose.
Plaintiffs attorney Matthew Dietz said during a Zoom press conference that “Schools are required to create an environment in which children with disabilities can be safely educated in an integrated environment”.
More families in the Hillsborough and Pasco counties have joined the lawsuit filed in Miami federal court that focuses on the educational rights of students with disabilities. The trial opened on Monday in a separate lawsuit filed in a state court with related claims.
“This case is what their rights are for these parents,” said Dietz. “Your rights under the American Disability Act guarantee that your children have the right to go to school and be safe in school.”
US MP Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for governorship, appeared during the press conference to criticize DeSantis. “The governor doesn’t care about anyone but himself and what’s best for him,” he said.
At least seven school districts have defied DeSantis’ order by imposing mask mandates that state officials say violate Florida law. And the Florida Board of Education announced a plan to withhold funds from districts in Alachua and Broward counties because of its masking mandates for school children.
Robyn McCarthy. Source: screenshot / zoom
Robyn McCarthy, who has a 6 year old son with asthma, believes schools should offer online learning and hybrid models of virtual and face-to-face teaching to cater to children with disabilities.
“We need immediate action; we need mitigation measures, ”McCarthy said during the press conference. “I need virtual options on the table. I ask you to help us with this virtual option. “
Another parent, Jamie Kinder, has a 9-year-old daughter who is immunocompromised.
“She just wants adults to help her access education, and that means everyone is wearing masks,” said Kinder.
“This governor doesn’t care or seems to understand that parents like the McCarthys and the children with disabilities cannot afford to take any risk when it comes to the health of their children,” said Crist.