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Tallahassee, Florida – Today, in another victory for parents ‘rights, the Florida Administrative Hearings Division dismissed a case filed by six school districts that ignored parents’ will to make decisions for their children. In a landmark case, the administrative judge ruled that the Florida Department of Health has the legal authority to issueEmergency rule 64DER21-15, which allows parents to decide whether their children should wear masks to school and ensures healthy students can stay in school.

“There is no strong evidence of health benefits for children as a result of mandatory masks in schools. Parents’ rights continue to be protected in Florida, as we can see from this tremendous decision, ”saidGeneral State Surgeon Dr Joseph Ladapo. “Florida will not be making decisions out of fear, but rather based on in-depth analysis of the data.”

“When you break the law, there are consequences,” saidCommissioner Richard Corcoran. “If these districts continue to break the law, we plan to hold them fully accountable. “

This decision followsan opinion delivered by the appeal court of the first district on October 29, who said in part “(school districts) cannot come between parents and their legitimate right to make decisions on behalf of their children.” At this point, the courts have been quite clear: All school districts must comply with the law and honor parental rights in making decisions for their children. Today’s decision also follows eight school districts already acknowledging their missteps in breaking Florida law and since implementing full parenting options to comply with the law (Brevard, FSU Lab, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Leon, Sarasota and Volusia), and an advisory opinion issued by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, which stated “in my opinion that the district must comply with rule 64DER21-12 and any other applicable authority unless and until the judiciary declares them invalid ”.

Administrative Judge Bryan Newman found, based on the evidence presented, that “forcing asymptomatic children to wear masks in schools is not a significant obstacle to the spread of COVID-19.” He criticized expert witnesses from counties who could not cite any data in Florida to support their opinions on universal masks in schools, while the Department of Health relied on “relevant data” from a case study of Florida schools in the 2020-2021 school year that showed no statistically significant difference between counties with mask mandates and other counties. In addition, department expert Dr Jay Bhattacharya presented “credible” testimony that “a child infected with COVID survives 99.997% of the time.” Newman J. therefore concluded that the ministry’s parental withdrawal protocols are “safe” for children and “strike the right balance.”

Justice Newman also clarified that the Department of Health has the legal authority to govern the control of COVID-19 in schools statewide. In other words, counties cannot defy state law on the basis of their own preferences to unnecessarily hide children and keep healthy children at home. Counties are appealing the decision, but such an appeal will be difficult given the judge’s factual conclusion that parental withdrawal protocols “strike the right balance in ensuring that protocols that govern the control of COVID-19 in schools do not go no further than necessary to keep children safe and in school.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, accredited at national level by the Public health accreditation office, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all Florida residents through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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