School superintendent responds after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis chastised students for wearing masks
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
A school principal responds after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was filmed berating students for wearing face masks during a visit to the University of South Florida on Wednesday.
Before a speech, DeSantis was filmed saying to a group of high school kids standing behind him, “You don’t have to wear those masks. I mean, please take them off. Honestly, that does nothing and we have to stop with this COVID Theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but it’s ridiculous.”
While some of the students could be seen removing their masks in response to comments, others kept them on.
In a statement sent to PEOPLE, Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said the district is “proud of how our students have represented themselves,” noting that it is their choice “to protect their health from the way they deem most appropriate”.
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According to the district, seven children were present at the press conference, which was held to announce funding for cybersecurity education. All students attend Middleton High School in Tampa.
“We are thrilled that our Middleton High School students have been highlighted as part of the statewide focus on cybersecurity education,” Davis said in the statement. “Our cybersecurity journey at MHS has been extremely successful with students earning industry certifications, participating in internships, and paving the way in computer systems and information technology. ‘information.”
The statement continues: “As always, our students should be valued and celebrated. It is the choice of students and parents to protect their health in the way they see fit. We are proud of the way our students represent themselves and our school district.”
While DeSantis is widely rumored to be preparing for a 2024 presidential race, he’s shot down that speculation, saying in previous interviews he’s “not considering anything but doing my job.”
The Republican governor, who narrowly won his election in 2018, is not without controversy.
Yet he has worked to raise his national profile in recent years, at times fueling culture war conflicts similar to former President Donald Trump.
DeSantis has touted his decision not to impose widespread restrictions during the pandemic (although it’s worth noting he ordered a statewide lockdown in April 2020), but he’s been the subject of of scrutiny for its handling of the virus. He opposed the imposition of public health measures in the state and tried to block the power of local leaders to issue mask mandates in municipalities across the state.
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Last July, DeSantis issued an order prohibiting local school districts from requiring students to wear masks, despite federal recommendations that all K-12 students wear face coverings when they return to school. class in the fall.
A fundraising group affiliated with DeSantis has also launched a product line that targets masks and White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci, such as a $12 “Don’t Fauci My Florida” koozie.