Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told students at the University of South Florida to take their masks off because “we’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater.”
DeSantis was visiting the university to discuss funding for a $20 million cybersecurity program.
As DeSantis took to the podium to hold a press conference, he turned to the seven Middleton High School students standing behind it.
“You do not have to wear those masks,” DeSantis said to the students. “I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”
Desantis to students: “You do not have to wear those masks. Please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything. We’ve gotta stop with this Covid theater. So if you wanna wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) March 2, 2022
Some of the students removed them and some kept them on.
Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis told WFLA that she is proud of the way the students handled themselves.
“We are excited our students from Middleton High School were highlighted as part of the statewide focus around cyber security education,” Davis told the news outlet. “Our cybersecurity pathway at MHS has had tremendous success through students earning industry certifications, participating in internships and leading the way in computer systems and information technology. As always, our students should be valued and celebrated. It is a student and parents’ choice to protect their health in a way they feel most appropriate. We are proud of the manner in which our students represented themselves and our school district.”
In August, DeSantis signed an executive order protecting the right of parents to choose whether or not their children wear masks at school. He threatened to withhold funding from districts that did not comply.
“Parents obviously can equip their kids to go to school however they want, but there shouldn’t be any coercive mandates on our schools,” he said at the signing, adding that masks are “terribly” uncomfortable for kids.