(CNN)A Florida judge ruled against Gov. Ron Desantis on Wednesday and allowed schools in the state to mandate face-masks while the case is appealed at a higher level.
The ruling from Second Circuit Judge John Cooper, effective immediately, means the state of Florida must stop enforcement of banning mask mandates — which ends sanctions against several school districts that have implemented such mandates.
The decision comes amid heated showdowns between the state and some local school districts, which have insisted on requiring students to wear masks amid a surge in Covid-19 infections.
In late July, DeSantis, a Republican, issued an executive order that directed the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Health to issue emergency rules giving parents a choice on whether their children should wear masks in class. The state threatened to withhold funding from districts that violated the order and required masks for everyone.
Even so, 13 Florida school districts have now implemented a mask mandate without a parent opt out in defiance of the governor’s position.
Judge Cooper ruled against DeSantis’ order two weeks ago, saying the governor overreached and did not have the authority to ban school districts from implementing mask mandates without a parent opt out.
DeSantis appealed that ruling, which led to an immediate pause on school mask mandates while a ruling was made.
That pause has now been lifted. In Wednesday’s ruling, Judge Cooper said there was not enough irreparable harm to set aside the automatic stay triggered by the appeal.
“It’s undisputed that in Florida we are in the midst of a Covid pandemic. Based on the evidence I’ve heard, there’s no harm to the state if the stay is set aside,” Cooper said.
Cooper added that based on expert witnesses it is clear the only way to protect children who are unable to be vaccinated is to
Effective immediately, schools are allowed to implement mask mandates in a ruling against Gov. Ron DeSantis
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