Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who had previously said he would withhold school administrators’ salaries if they insist on mask mandates despite his executive order, soften his threat on Thursday.

“Those officials should own their decision — and that means owning the consequences of their decisions rather than demanding students, teachers and school staff to foot the bill for their potential grandstanding,” Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, told The Miami Herald.

“The issue is that … superintendents and school board members are not state employees. Therefore, the only way the state could tailor the financial penalty would be to withhold an amount of funding equal to their salaries,” Pushaw added. “In that event, it is possible that the officials who are violating the law could decide to take funding from other needs in their own district, in order to pay themselves salaries. It wouldn’t be fair to the students, but it would technically be possible.”

Governor’s office announced Monday that the state board of education could withhold the salaries of school officials – superintendents and school board – who do not follow the governor’s executive order that bans mandatory mask orders in school districts. The decision came despite the Flordia becoming the epicenter of the COVID-19 in recent weeks.

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“I think the fairest thing to do is just say let parents make the decisions,” DeSantis said at an event last week in Tampa.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recent data, Florida’s hospitalization rate from COVID-19 related complications is now about three times higher than the national average.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration confirmed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent 200 ventilators and 100 nasal breathing machines to Florida after an urgent request from the hospitals, while DeSantis previously claimed that the report was false.


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