After ruling Bay District Superintendent talks mask mandates

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — On Friday morning, a judge ruled that Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority and cannot prevent school districts from ordering a mask mandate for students.

On Friday afternoon, Bay District Superintendent Bill Husfelt answered questions during a wide-ranging interview on the coronavirus pandemic. Just this week, Husfelt himself was recently overruled by the school board on a mask mandate for employees.

Regardless of his personal convictions, Husfelt clearly knows a losing battle when he sees one. He said while he knew masks could prevent people from catching COVID he doubted the School Board would approve a mandate for students.

“I do not believe there is an appetite to make our students wear masks right now,” Husfelt said. “I don’t think The Board wants to have that fight and argument with parents right now.”

At the same time, he also sympathized with parents who opposed masks.

“I think what they are saying is, ‘I believe the masks don’t do any good and I believe my child is hurt when wearing a mask,'” Husfelt said.

He also noted that the district is overwhelmed with hundreds of students and employees who are forced to quarantine each week because of the coronavirus. But in Husfelt’s eyes, the pandemic is amplified because there is no clear medical leadership on a national level that most Americans trust.

“If we had the leadership of both hospitals come to me and say, ‘We really think masks would help.’ I’d ask the school board chairman to call a special meeting with the school board right now and bring that before them and ask them to do that … if I could have that kind of medical support.”

The way forward for most people is by taking the vaccine.

“I personally believe that if you get the vaccine that you don’t have to worry about it,” he said.

Husfelt also said he supports Desantis.

“I voted for Governor Desantis and I respect Governor Desantis and I think he’s done a great job of leading us through this,” Husfelt said. “See, he’s become the evil person but tell me someone else who has done it better than he has.”

However, Husfelt also broke with DeSantis’ mandate for locals school districts saying that he wished the governor had left mask decisions up to local leaders. He also lamented that medical decisions have become political battles.

“There is nothing good that is going to come out of all of us arguing about this,” Husfelt said.

Meanwhile, DeSantis said he will appeal Friday’s ruling to the District Court of Appeals.

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