Large school districts in both Florida and Texas are defying their governors’ ban on mask mandates for students amid a surging number of COVID-19 cases. In Tallahassee, Leon County Schools has become the latest Florida district to ignore Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban by requiring all elementary and middle school students to wear masks for the start of the year, Tallahassee Democrat reports. “This mask not only protects the person wearing the mask, it protects the person beside them and in front of them and behind them,” said Superintendent Rocky Hanna. Dallas ISD announced Monday that it will also require both students and teachers to don face coverings, and Houston’s school district is reportedly considering doing the same.
Florida has become the nation’s COVID petri dish, accounting for one-fifth of all new cases, leading several local officials to defy DeSantis—who’s threatened to withhold funding—and implement their own safety measures in schools. A school board in Alachua County voted to require masks for at least the first couple of weeks of school, and students at Orange County Public Schools must wear them for 30 days. Broward County Public Schools said last week its mask mandate was still in place as it awaits “further guidance before rendering a decision on the mask mandate for the upcoming school year.”