Florida will provide private school vouchers to students who don't want to wear face masks

click to enlarge Florida will provide private school vouchers to students who don't want to wear face masks
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The Florida Board of Education voted on Friday to approve a system that would provide private school vouchers for students who feel they are being bullied into following COVID-19 safety procedures.

A unanimous vote by the state board expanded the Hope Scholarships — which provide vouchers to bullied students — in such a way that children being asked to wear face masks can apply. The rule defines "COVID-19 harassment" as a form of bullying and includes testing requirements, masking and isolation as examples.

“‘COVID-19 harassment’ means any threatening, discriminatory, insulting, or dehumanizing verbal, written or physical conduct an individual student suffers in relation to, or as a result of, school district protocols for COVID-19, including masking requirements, the separation or isolation of students, or COVID-19 testing requirements, that have the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance,” the rule states.

The ruling comes as many school districts are working around or outright defying Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order barring mask mandates in Florida schools. Those orders came with a threat of removing funds from schools that decide to require masking for the safety of their students and families. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried stated that she's seeking federal funds for these schools, in the event that their funding is removed.

Florida is far and away the national leader in current coronavirus cases and has been the source of more than a fifth of the country's new infections over the last week. In spite of this, DeSantis continues to hold the line that mask mandates are harmful and that the rising numbers of hospitalizations and cases are media-fueled and not reality.

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