8-Tear-Old Florida Girl Suspended 38 Times for Not Wearing a Mask Now Reunited with Classmates

A school district in Florida has finally given up its student mask mandate. This came after there was a very public journey of an 8-year-old girl who was suspended a total of 38 times for refusing to comply with the school board’s mandate.

Adding to the surprising number of suspensions was the fact that Republican Governor Ron DeSantis had given an executive order that gave Florida parents ultimate control over their kids’ masking habits, not school administrators.

The district mandate that defied the Governor’s order was repealed on November 8th following a ruling from Division of Administrative Hearings Judge Newman. He declared the Department of Health’s Emergency Rule 64DER21-15 valid.

The Palm Beach County school district told this to parents, “Based on a new development at the State level, the School District will be moving to an opt-out status for facial coverings for students in all grade levels beginning this Monday, November 8, rather than on November 15 as you were originally informed.”

Before this ruling became effective, Fiona Lashells, a second-grader, became the public face in the mask-mandate wars in Florida. This war, which was really over parental rights, brought the young girl to an appearance with Gov. DeSantis on “Fox & Friends” earlier this month.

Fiona said on the air, “I’m not wearing a mask because you touch it, and you have germs on your hand. And then you put it on your face and breathe in all the germs.”

Bailey Lashells, Fiona’s mother, said her daughter complained about masking when she was forced to wear one last year. She said that the mask was making her tired, according to a report from The Palm Beach Post.

When the mandate was repealed by the governor of Florida, Bailey Lashells told her daughter that she never had to wear a mask again. When the district renewed the requirement defying the governor’s order, Lashells said she would not be made a liar and she told Fiona she did not have to wear a mask at school.

“We promised her she wouldn’t have to wear a mask,” the mother said. “I think that’s what upset her so much. We had made that promise to her at the beginning of the year.”

When the second-grader first went to school without a mask, she was ordered to eat lunch alone in a hallway outside an administrator’s office, according to a report.

It was not long before the suspensions started, first in-school and eventually out-of-school. Fiona missed almost two months of school, being forced to do schoolwork alone without teachers or other students.

“I didn’t get to see my friends, that’s the sad part,” she told The Palm Beach Post. “But I did most of my work.”

But now, Fiona has been reunited with her classmates, and was apparently met with “the fanfare of a homecoming war veteran” on the day of her return, The Palm Beach Post reported. There were family and friends there waving signs and cheering and she even had a state legislator walking proudly alongside of her.

Fiona’s parents said that their daughter was adamant that she wanted to make sure everyone could go back to school with a choice.

It’s hard to imagine how this story continued with suspensions happening over this long-haul. Florida’s new surgeon general stated that the evidence supporting mask mandates in schools is “very weak” during a Wednesday press conference.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who was given the position in September, said that data acquired so far on school mask mandates does not support such policies, despite the claims of other public health leaders. Ladapo also said that whether or not to mask a child should be a parent’s, and only the parent’s, decision.