DeSantis Claps Back At Critics Angry He Told Students to Ditch Their Masks

DeSantis Claps Back At Critics Angry He Told Students to Ditch Their Masks

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis led the country in reopening early on during the COVID-19 pandemic after first concentrating virus mitigation on the state’s most vulnerable, and large, senior population.

Since then, he’s been an ardent proponent of maximum liberty and an equally vehement opponent of ‘pandemic theater,’ pushing back on mandatory masking and vaccine requirements.

Earlier this week, he traveled to the University of South Florida to promote a new cybersecurity education program. As he approached the podium, he told a group of masked students lined up behind the dais to de-mask, in no uncertain terms.

“You do not have to wear those masks,” DeSantis said. “I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is, this is ridiculous.”


The incident drew the ire of parents and others who thought DeSantis was out of line.

The Republican governor has regularly pushed back on mask-wearing, but his response was ripped by media outlets that normally found fault with his pandemic policies, per The Daily Wire:

The headline from NBC affiliate WFLA read, “‘This is ridiculous’: DeSantis scolds students for wearing face masks during USF visit.”

follow-up article from the same outlet read, “‘Stop bullying kids’: Students, parents respond to Gov. DeSantis telling students to take off their masks.”

Ron DeSantis just yelled at students for wearing masks. This is not a leader. This is a bully. A petulant child. Shameful,” @meidastouch tweeted.

Here’s Ron DeSantis scolding kids about wearing masks because he’s terrible. DeSantis should resign over this alone. So weak and pathetic,” @funder added.

CNN’s headline read, “Ron DeSantis just yelled at high school students for wearing masks.”

Later Thursday, DeSantis responded in a video that included footage of the event he tweeted with the caption, “The political science show cannot go on. It’s curtain call for COVID theater.”

“Don’t follow the science, follow the political science,” the video continued, showing photos of Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams smiling without her mask — surrounded by a classroom full of elementary school students who were still forced to mask up for class.

But again, DeSantis hasn’t been a fan of what he obviously believes are mostly pandemic theatrics.

Last month, he said parents should be able to sue school districts if their child “was illegally forced-masked this year in Florida.” He cited “any negative effects of it, if they have speech problems, if they have emotional problems, physical problems.” 

“They flouted the law and they should be liable for the consequences of their actions,” DeSantis added.

Also Tuesday, DeSantis announced that the state’s surgeon general has issued new guidelines for Florida employees, giving them more freedom from mask requirements.

“Simply relying on outdated CDC guidance when the experience has completely undercut that is not really a reasonable thing to do at this point,” DeSantis said in a video posted online.


Join the Newsletter