Anti-mask protesters forced a Florida school board to postpone a meeting on school demands

“People were not wearing masks and refused to follow the rules – rules that people have been following for the past year and a half,” school board member Sarah Leonardi said of the protesters. “It made it very difficult to hold our meeting behind closed doors.”

Leonardi said the group set masks on fire during their demonstration, calling the protest “very disturbing.”

Video of the protest from CNN subsidiary WFOR showed a protester extinguishing a catering tray full of masks with lighter fluid before lighting it with a lighter.

The protester can be heard saying in the video, “It’s time to dismiss this symbol of tyranny, this symbol of child abuse – we will not stand for it anymore.”

The protest comes as the dangerous Delta variant has driven another Covid-19 wave in the United States. Hospitals in parts of the country are filling up again and reporting younger patients than ever, the majority of whom have not been vaccinated. With children under the age of 12 not yet eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States, schools across the country are navigating what the start of the academic year will look like and whether they need face masks.
The CDC recommends encouraging everyone to wear a mask to school, regardless of vaccination status
In response to the increase, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended that localities encourage everyone in schools to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. The American Academy of Pediatrics made a similar recommendation earlier this month.
Florida is currently experiencing high community transmission of Covid-19, according to data from the CDC. The state is one of 35 with an increase of more than 50% in new cases over the past week compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met privately with an expert panel on Monday, which effectively reinforced its anti-masking position in schools, warning that if the federal government and school districts push for masks in classrooms, a special session of the law is not out of the question.

The 3 largest school districts plan to require masks.  But other major districts are banned from issuing mask mandates

“Parents know what’s best for their children; therefore, parents in Florida have the power to make their own choices regarding masking,” DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said Tuesday.

Barbara Rodas, who was at the Broward County protest, told WFOR she does not want her 6-year-old daughter to wear a mask to school.

“I’m here to speak for her and for her schoolmates,” she told the local station.

The mask claim workshop has been postponed until July 28, Leonardi said, noting that there will be new security.

Classes in the district begin Aug. 18, according to its website.

CNN’s Giovanna Van Leeuwen, Rosa Flores, Kacey Cherry, John Couwels and Tina Burnside contributed to this report.


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