Fight ends over school masks in Florida schools

South Florida Sun Sentinel | By News Service of Florida | January 6, 2022

TALLAHASSEE — After both sides said the case was moot, a South Florida appeals court dismissed a legal fight about school mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal issued an order Wednesday ending the case, which involved school boards challenging a Florida Department of Health emergency rule aimed at preventing mask requirements for students.

Attorneys for the school boards in Miami-Dade, Broward and Duval counties filed a document last month that said the case was moot because the emergency rule, which was issued in September, could only be in effect for 90 days and would expire Dec. 21.

Attorneys for the Department of Health filed a response this week that agreed with the school boards, leading to Wednesday’s dismissal.

The rule, in part, carried out a July 30 executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has opposed mask requirements. School boards challenged the rule at the state Division of Administrative Hearings, but Judge Brian Newman in November rejected arguments that the emergency rule was improper.

That spurred an appeal to the 4th District Court of Appeal. While the appeal was pending, the Legislature passed a law in November that barred school boards from requiring students to wear masks.

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