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US Four Teachers in School District Defying DeSantis' Mask Ban Die From COVID on Nearly Same Day

01:45  26 september  2021
01:45  26 september  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

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Four teachers in one Florida school district died of COVID-19 on nearly the same day that their local school board decided to go against Governor Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Three of the Broward County School teachers were unvaccinated, according to Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco. In the picture above, students at Hillsborough High School can be seen waiting in line to have temperature checked before entering the building on August 31, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. © Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images Three of the Broward County School teachers were unvaccinated, according to Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco. In the picture above, students at Hillsborough High School can be seen waiting in line to have temperature checked before entering the building on August 31, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.

The teachers, all within the Broward County Public Schools district, among the nation's largest, died within a 24-hour span with only one week left before school kicks off, 4CBS Miami reported Friday. They included a teacher at a high school and another at an elementary school, said Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco.

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"It's extremely frightening. I hear this every day, whether in Broward or elsewhere," Fusco told 4CBS Miami. "We're the 5th largest union in the country."

Fusco said that three of the teachers who passed away were unvaccinated.

She is glad that the school board took a different approach to masks on Tuesday, saying, "We got a little bit of relief, keeping mask protocols, hand sanitizer, extra sanitizing."

Mourning the loss of the teachers, the chair of the Broward County School Board, Rosalind Osgood, said, "I have been on the school board for nine years, and for nine years you get to connect with them," according to 4CBS Miami. "You love them. They become family."

DeSantis on Friday appeared to back down a bit in the mask mandate dispute.

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On July 30 the Republican lawmaker signed an executive order "ensuring parents' freedom to choose" whether their child wears a mask. However, some Florida school districts, including Broward and Alachua, have defied this rule and made masks mandatory in school unless the child can provide a doctor's note as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase in the state.

DeSantis's office responded by saying the state's Board of Education could move to withhold salaries from the superintendent or school board members.

But the governor's office softened its stance on Friday, acknowledging that the state has no control over local employees' pay.

A DeSantis spokesperson called on "anti-science school board members" to dock their own salaries if the state follows through with financial sanctions against their district.

"Those officials should own their decision—and that means owning the consequences of their decisions rather than demanding students, teachers, and school staff to foot the bill for their potential grandstanding," Christina Pushaw, the governor's press secretary, wrote in an email to the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times.

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Florida is experiencing the highest rate of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. According to data from the CovKid project, which uses COVID-19 hospitalization numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as of August 7, Florida is reporting 8.1 children hospitalized with COVID-19 per 100,000 residents.

The state also has the highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations among residents aged 18 and 19. As of August 7, Florida reported 20.6 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in that age group.

Newsweek contacted the Broward County School Board for comments but didn't receive a response by the time of publication.

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