A group of maskless mothers in Florida, where masks are recommended but not required in public places, was removed by police at a meeting of the Volusia County School Board held in the city of DeLand. At the meeting, an extension of the current masking mandate of the school district was discussed.
According to the Volusia County School Board, the women at the meeting repeatedly ignored demands for the wearing of face masks. Face masks must be worn by “all students, employees, visitors, vendors, or other persons while in or on the property of the school district” when social distance guidelines cannot be observed, the school district said.
No arrests have been made, but seven people have been evicted from the congregation without authorization, which means they are prohibited from returning to the property for a year.
Speaking to Tekk.tv, Nancy H. Wait, Volusia County School Volunteer/Partnership Program Facilitator, said, “They [the mothers]were asked several times by various individuals to comply with the face cover policy or leave the assembly room, but they clearly took a stand against face cover.
“Their actions became very disruptive, delaying the start of the board meeting by more than an hour. The police were called in to help because they refused to leave the room when they left the premises without permission,” Wait said.
The women claimed to have special medical permits that allow them not to wear face coverings in public. This is shown in a video of the incident that a reporter from Florida News 6, Loren Korn, showed on her Facebook page.
Rachael Cohen, one of the women, said, “We are not here to protest, we are here to talk… we have already spoken to the city’s lawyer, and he has already told us that if you have a medical reason, you do not need to wear a mask. This is not right.
“This is called duress. It’s called a return to earlier times in history, I’m not going to label it. We live in a free country, this is a free city. The city of DeLand told us we don’t have to do this.
“It must be an option. If children come from families that want them to be masked, everyone has that right. We’re not asking to be taken away right now. We’re asking to have the right to a medical choice.”
When Cohen was escorted from the building by DeLand police officers, she said, “I’m being dragged out of the room… it’s America 2020, I’m being arrested for sitting in a room.
In a live Facebook video that Cohen shared at the time of the incident, she told an officer: “No, I’m not going outside. I will not leave this building. Governor DeSantis needs to see this, this is what is happening in his state. I hope President Trump sees it too. This is not what we as a country stand for”.
“I have never put a mask on my face and I never will,” Cohen said in the Facebook video.
Wait told Tekk.tv: “We follow the advice of our local health authority and the guidelines of the CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention]. As soon as the meeting was able to start, the school board approved the policy on mandatory face covering.
Last month, DeLand’s city commission issued a mask ordinance requiring residents and visitors to wear masks in public.
“As the number of cases in DeLand continues to rise at an alarming rate, the City Commission felt compelled to take additional steps to combat the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” said DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar in a statement at the time. There are certain exceptions, including medical conditions.
Already in June, Florida’s State Department of Health issued an updated public health statement: “All persons in Florida should wear masks in any environment where social distancing is not possible,” except in exceptional circumstances, including medical reasons.
After the recent incident, the total number of confirmed cases in Florida is approaching 790,500, with 16,571 reported deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
It has been reported that the average daily new cases in Florida increased during the last two-week period from October 14 to 27. The average declined from mid-July, when it peaked at 11,870 on July 14, before leveling off in early September, according to the JHU’s