DeSantis Tells Students to Remove 'Ridiculous' Masks

'We’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater,' Florida governor told them
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2022 6:50 AM CST

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was not happy to see students wearing masks when he arrived at the podium for a press conference in Tampa Wednesday. "You do not have to wear those masks," DeSantis told students lined up behind him, per Rolling Stone. "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," he said, sighing and shaking his head. The Middleton High School students were visiting the University of South Florida for an event addressing cybersecurity in schools. Some of them removed their masks after the Republican governor's remarks, but others kept them on.

Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Addison Davis tells WFLA there were seven students from the Tampa high school at the event. "As always, our students should be valued and celebrated," she says. "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." DeSantis has long criticized masks and other COVID mitigation measures, NBC reports. In July last year, he banned school districts from requiring students to wear masks.

Democratic critics slammed the governor's remarks, accusing him of bullying the students. His spokeswoman, Christina Pushaw, defended him in dozens of tweets, denouncing "tyrants" and "forced-maskers," the AP reports. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, Florida has reported 25,523 new COVID infections and 1,292 deaths over the last week. (Read more Ron DeSantis stories.)

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