Florida Second Circuit Judge John Cooper—who last month struck down Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates in schools—has denied the governor's appeal of the ruling. In addition to allowing school districts to require masks, the decision ends the state's sanctions against 13 districts, including Sarasota County, that previously enacted mandates, despite the governor's ban.

Cooper said his verdict was based on the fact that the Covid-19 Delta variant is much more contagious than previous versions of the virus and that children—especially those under 12, who cannot be vaccinated—are more susceptible to it. "There's really only one or two means to protect them against the virus: either stay at home, or mask," he said.

On Monday, despite Cooper's previous ruling, Florida Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Richard Corcoran announced that the DOE withheld school board members' monthly salaries in Alachua and Broward counties—two of the first to defy DeSantis' ban on mask mandates in schools.

The case will now go to the First District Court of Appeal. We'll keep you posted on what happens next.
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