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Poll: 60 percent of Floridians support mask mandates in schools

When it comes to the governor's threats to withhold funding from schools that implement mask mandates, many Floridians disagreed with his decision.

FLORIDA, USA — While Florida hospitals deal with the overwhelming rise in COVID-19 patients, the latest debate over how to respond to the most recent surge in cases is playing out in school districts across the state.

An executive order signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis made it so that parents had the final say if their children wear masks in schools. However, due to the amount of reported COVID-19 cases among students and staff in several schools across the state, several school districts have chosen to defy the governor's orders and mandate masks. 

And, a new poll shows many Floridians are on the side of schools. 

The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, found 60 percent of people in Florida are in favor of schools requiring masks for students and staff.

When it comes to the governor's threats to withhold funding from schools that implement mask mandates, 69 percent of people in Florida say it's a bad idea. 

"As COVID-19 makes a frightening resurgence, it's Tallahassee vs. the teaching institutions. Thumbs down from Floridians on DeSantis' ban on mask requirements in public schools. Thumbs down on DeSantis' call to freeze pay of administrators who mandate mask wearing. And he gets scant support from fellow Republicans on penalizing the school leaders who defy him," said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.

On Friday, a judge is expected to make a decision on a lawsuit filed by several Tampa Bay-area attorneys and parents against Gov. Ron DeSantis' school mask mandate ban.

The lawsuit, claiming the governor's ban on mandating masks in schools violates the Florida Constitution, was first filed on Aug. 6.

"Our main argument is that there's an irreparable harm," said Natalie Paskiewicz, a St. Petersburg-based attorney who recently joined the legal team.

Charles Gallagher, a St. Petersburg attorney and father of two school-aged daughters, says the 67 school boards across the state are very different from one another. Each district should be given the authority to make the decisions that are best for their communities, he contends.