WSHC+B partners, Edward G. Guedes and Jamie A. Cole, discussed the impact of the new Department of Health emergency rule allowing parents to determine whether or not they quarantine their child after being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The previous emergency rule banning universal mask mandates in schools has become moot after Florida’s new surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, issued a new emergency rule putting masking and quarantine decisions at the sole discretion of parents.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that the emergency rule was unveiled to the public in court documents pertaining to a case brought by the school districts in Alachua, Broward, Leon, Miami-Dade and Orange counties. Jamie and Ed, along with firm attorney Richard Rosengarten, are representing the Leon and Miami-Dade School Boards in that matter.
The districts’ challenge to a mask mandate rule ended Wednesday after an attorney representing the state filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing the case was moot because the new rule had repealed and replaced the earlier challenged rule. The request came two days before the case was set to begin before administrative law judge Brian Newman, who had set aside a week to hear arguments.
The department “did the [new] rule with absolutely no public notice, no hearing, no transparency whatsoever,” observed Jamie. “What is the emergency now that necessitated making this emergency rule?”
Ed raised concerns about the pattern that seemed to be emerging in the state’s approach.
“What’s going to happen the next time” a legal challenge nears its hearing date, Guedes asked. “Are they going to wait until the last minute and say, ‘Oh, we’ve repealed it and here’s another’?”
If that occurs, he observed, the state agency will have engaged in rule-making in a way that evades judicial review.
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