(CNN) — Lawyers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have filed an emergency appeal with the First District Court of Appeals in Florida in hopes of halting school mask mandates while the case goes through the court system.
DeSantis’ lawyers argue they “have a high likelihood of success on appeal. Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion in vacating the automatic stay, and this Court should reinstate the stay pending review,” according to a court document.
DeSantis’ attorneys filed the motion to reinstate the stay Wednesday evening, after Second Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled against DeSantis, lifting an automatic stay triggered by the governor’s appeal and allowing Florida schools to institute mask mandates while the case is appealed at a higher level.
The news comes amid showdowns between the state and some local school districts that have insisted on requiring students to wear masks as Covid-19 infections surge.
Two weeks ago, Cooper ruled that DeSantis had overreached when he issued an executive order in late July directing the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Health to issue emergency rules giving parents a choice on whether their children should wear masks in class. The state threatened to withhold funding from districts that violated the order and required masks, but 13 Florida school districts have implemented mask mandates without a parental opt-out in defiance of the governor.
DeSantis appealed that ruling, leading to an immediate pause on school mask mandates until Cooper’s decision Wednesday, when he wrote, “It’s undisputed that in Florida we are in the midst of a Covid pandemic. Based on the evidence I’ve heard, there’s no harm to the state if the stay is set aside.”
In their motion, attorneys for the governor argued Wednesday that Cooper’s ruling was wrong, as was his reasoning for lifting the stay on mask mandates.
“Presently, there are no active policies in any school district that prohibit students from wearing masks. All of Appellees’ children remain free to wear masks. Maintaining the automatic stay will not prohibit Appellees from masking their children,” the lawyers argued in the 41-page motion.
Attorneys for the parents suing the state have until Thursday night to file their response to the motion.
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