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Horowitz: Florida Department of Education asks schools to make masking optional in the fall
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Horowitz: Florida Department of Education asks schools to make masking optional in the fall

Sunshine State

There is a lot of focus on the 23 states that no longer have mask mandates in place, but the reality is that in all of those states, nearly all of the schools are still forcing children to wear masks for seven hours a day. Thus, the most unscientific and inhumane aspect of the mandate is largely intact in all but the most rural counties of red states. A new directive from the DeSantis administration in Florida aims to make the Sunshine State the first state where children can actually live a normal life again.

In a letter titled, "Planning for the 2021-2022 School Year," Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told the school districts that it's time to follow the science.

"Upon reviewing the policies of those districts with mandatory face covering policies, reviewing all districts' relevant health data, and factoring in such data points as the percentage of students learning in-person and the relative population of a county (which is often synonymous with a county's community health resources), the data shows us that districts' face covering policies do not impact the spread of the virus… Broad sweeping mandatory face covering policies serve no remaining good at this point in our schools" (emphasis in original).

Indeed, throughout the epidemic, the counties with the mandates actually had more cases per capita than those without mandates.

An analysis by Rational Ground in December tabulated all of the days that various counties had mandates and compared them to the days without the mandates. They found that when counties didhave a mandate in effect, there were 667,239 cases over 3,137 days with an average of 23 cases per 100,000 per day. When counties did nothave a countywide order, there were 438,687 cases over 12,139 days with an average of 22 cases per 100,000 per day. This held true even adjusting for differences in population density.

This particular letter is earth-shattering in that it is the first department of education in the country to actually look at the data on mask-wearing rather than take its efficacy as an article of faith. Moreover, Corcoran recognized in the letter that face coverings are a "personal decision" and should be left to each family.

After conveying the fact that there has been zero proof of tangible benefit from mask-wearing, the letter goes on to remind school districts that mask-wearing for children is not a cost-free social experiment.

"Mandatory face covering policies inhibit peer-to-peer learning in our classrooms and they may also unintentionally create a barrier for students and families who would otherwise choose in-person instruction if such a policy were not in place," wrote Corcoran. "Such policies may also impede instruction in certain cases, especially for students with disabilities and English language learners who benefit from viewing a teacher's face and mouth."

Amen! I would also add that breathing freely without re-inhaling one's own CO2 or wearing a disgusting bacteria trap are also pretty good reasons.

The letter closes by asking all those districts that still have mask mandates to terminate them by next school year.

Once again, Florida leads the way in protecting human rights and our most basic freedoms while following the science.

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