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Florida science teacher fired for refusing to wear mask

The teacher plans to appeal the decision to an administrative law judge.
A teacher in South Florida has been fired for repeatedly refusing to wear a mask. This photo shows a student holding a mask on the first day of school for Hillsborough County in August 2020.
A teacher in South Florida has been fired for repeatedly refusing to wear a mask. This photo shows a student holding a mask on the first day of school for Hillsborough County in August 2020. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Dec. 15, 2021|Updated Dec. 15, 2021

FORT LAUDERDALE — A teacher in South Florida has been fired for repeatedly refusing to wear a mask.

The school board in Broward County on Tuesday unanimously voted to fire John C. Alvarez, a science teacher at Piper High for gross insubordination.

Alvarez plans to appeal the decision to an administrative law judge, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The school board had required students and employees to wear masks in schools for most of the school year, citing a large number of COVID-19 cases, as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has prohibited student mask mandates, leading to months of bitter legal disputes with Broward and other counties. DeSantis’ orders, which were codified into law by state lawmakers last month, do not apply to employees, only students.

Alvarez repeatedly refused to follow orders from his supervisors to wear a mask and he was fired for insubordination, even though the district no longer requires anyone to wear masks on school campuses, according to the school district.

“The fact that this is related to a mask and all the baggage that issue comes with is really not relevant to the complaint at hand, which is that there was gross insubordination by this employee to a directive by a supervisor,” said Marylin Batista, the school board’s interim general counsel.

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