The U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) has expressed their concern over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ insistence on Florida’s public schools being “mask-optional” for this school year. DeSantis issued an executive order banning mask mandates in Florida’s schools ensuring the parents have “freedom to choose.”

However, the U.S. DOE sent a letter to DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Friday.

“Florida’s recent actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts students and staff at risk,” said U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in the letter he posted on Twitter Friday.

DeSantis’ communications team pushed back against the letter by saying it was entirely based on the “assertion that forced masking of children is a good thing.”

“This is completely unsubstantiated, and we are disappointed that the federal government is sacrificing science for their political agenda,” said Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, from the Tampa Bay Times.

Two of Florida’s public-school districts, Alachua and Broward, have been defying DeSantis’ executive order and imposed mandatory mask requirements for the upcoming school year.

DeSantis initially threatened to withhold salaries from the school officials imposing the mandates, but DeSantis has backed off slightly. Both districts are still facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding being withheld because of their actions.

The U.S. DOE’s letter continued by saying they stand with the rogue school districts.

“In fact, it appears that Florida has prioritized threatening to withhold state funds from school districts that are working to reopen schools safely rather than protecting students and educators and getting school districts the federal pandemic recovery funds to which they are entitled,” Cardona said.

Despite the insistence from the defiant school districts, the CDC, and the U.S. DOE, masks have still been proven inconsequential in preventing the transmission of COVID.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Ron DeSantis.