Governor DeSantis tells masked students at Tampa press conference: ‘Please take them off’
TAMPA, Florida. – As the governor of Florida approached the lectern for a press conference in Tampa, a few students waited wearing masks.
A handful of Middleton High School students were on hand for Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement. Before he was set to reveal a cybersecurity training initiative at the University of South Florida, DeSantis told Middleton High School students and USF students standing behind him to remove their masks.
“You don’t have to wear these masks. Please take them off. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. If you want to wear it, that’s fine, but that’s ridiculous,” DeSantis said. before turning to the desk and shaking his head.
Some students did what he said while others didn’t, including 14-year-old Middleton freshman Kevin Brown. He said a member of the governor’s staff also approached him.
“The lady she pulled me up and told me to take my mask off or stand to the side, and I took it off for a second but when I got back up there I took it off put it back on because I didn’t feel comfortable with it off,” Brown said. “I feel safer with the mask on and everybody in there didn’t have a mask on, so I thought that I should probably wear one to protect myself and to protect them. It bothered me a bit because I don’t see why she had to tell me to take off my mask. If I want to wear it, I should be able to wear it.
The governor then announced a $20 million program to create more cybersecurity opportunities through the school’s Cybersecurity Center.
In a statement to FOX 13’s Briona Arradondo, a representative from the governor’s office said “the CDC has even stopped recommending mask-wearing for most Americans”, however, the CDC says Hillsborough County is still considered a high transmission area, and advice on the agency. The website says to wear a mask indoors in public, in areas with high transmission.
CDC mask guidelines for Hillsborough County as of February 24, 2022
Reaction from the Governor’s Office and the School System
“After 2 years of mixed messaging and social engineering from health officials and the media, the Governor wants to make sure everyone is up to speed with the facts and data now, so they can feel free. and comfortable without a mask,” said Taryn Fenske, spokeswoman for the governor’s office. “If hundreds of politicians (including high-risk seniors) can congregate mask-free at the State of the Union, then young people should feel safe mask-free.”
Meanwhile, Hillsborough County Public Schools said they remain focused on this exciting time for students. In a statement released Wednesday, the district said:
“We are thrilled that our students at Middleton High School have been highlighted as part of the statewide focus on cybersecurity education. Our cybersecurity journey at MHS has seen a huge success through students earning industry certifications, participating in internships, and blazing a trail in computer systems and information technology. As always, our students should be valued and celebrated. This is the choice of the student and parent to protect their health in the way they deem most appropriate.We are proud of how our students represent themselves and our school district.
DeSantis on COVID mitigation measures
DeSantis opposed lockdown methods seen in other states across the country, and championed a “parents’ bill of rights” that became law after the 2021 legislative session.
“All parental rights are reserved to the parent of a minor child in this state without obstruction or interference by the state, any political subdivision thereof, any other governmental entity, or any other institution, including including, but not limited to, all of the following rights of a parent of a minor child in this state”, and includes the right to “make health care decisions for their minor child, unless otherwise prohibited of the law “.
Last week, the governor spoke at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and emphasized to the public that Florida does not require face coverings.
“We’ve protected people’s rights, we’ve protected people’s jobs, and we’ve made sure that every child in the state of Florida has the opportunity to go to school in person,” DeSantis boasted. “Freedom has prevailed in the Sunshine State.”