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Broward School Board To Discuss Masks Tuesday As Governor Reveals More Penalties For Those Who Violate Executive Order

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Masks in class will be the topic of discussion at the Broward School Board meeting Tuesday.

"If nothing else came in to play, I would say mandatory masks for the first couple of weeks, until we get a grip on the numbers and start to see how having 100% of our students back in school, how that affects the protocols that we have," explained school board member Debbi Hixon.

The Broward School Board voted unanimously about two weeks ago to make masks mandatory in school, until at least after Labor Day.

However, shortly after, Gov. Ron DeSantis came out with an executive order, which threatened to take school funding from districts that enacted mask mandates.

"It is my role as an elected official to make sure that, not only are the students and staff safe, but they have the resources they need. So it's really important for me to find out the legalities of what that opting-out is," Hixon said. "It's important we do this in a way that brings them [the students] all back and we make sure they're safe and we're able to provide them with the resources they need."

Board Chair Dr. Rosalind Osgood said in an interview last week if she would vote in favor masks again.

"Students need to be back in school, face-to-face, with their teachers. I, as one board member, believe strongly that we can do that, and we can protect them and keep them safe by making masks mandatory," she said.

Through text, board member Nora Rupert said, "I will listen to community, Superintendent and staff, along with my colleagues, and vote with concrete data and best interest for all of Broward County."

Schools will be opening again to full capacity, as opposed to last school year, which had about 45%.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all who are eligible to get vaccinated, as well as wear masks at school, Gov. DeSantis is adamant for parents to choose, saying he wants to protect their rights.

Monday, penalties for those who go against the executive order were taken a step further. His office said in a statement:

"The State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law. Education funding is intended to benefit students first and foremost, not systems. The Governor's priorities are protecting parents' rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs."

In response, Broward School Board member Sarah Leonardi sent CBS4 a statement that reads:

"I think the governor's new threats say more about what he values as an elected official than anything. I didn't get into public service for the money. I serve to first and foremost keep our students and employees safe. Also, the governor has no authority to do what he's trying to do and is in line with his continued executive overreach."

Last year, in a pre-vaccine time, the threshold to return to class was 5% positivity.

According to the CDC, data from the last week shows the positivity rate for Broward is about 19%.

School districts in Leon, Alachua and Duval Counties have so far all challenged the governor's order.

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