© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You Count on Us, We Count on You: Donate to WUSF to support free, accessible journalism for yourself and the community.
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Pinellas Parent Group Wants School Board To Reconsider Mask Mandate

Girl in mask at school
Pasco County Schools

While members of the parent group understand the rights of parents to determine what's best for their children, the mask mandate debate is a bigger discussion about public safety.

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 earlier 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, several of the major school districts in Florida - including Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and Broward - 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.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.