Starting next school year, all K-12 public schools in Florida will hold a moment of silence at the start of the day.
According to a bill signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, principals of each public school must require teachers in first-period classrooms in all grades to set aside at least one minute but not more than two minutes daily to hold a moment of silence.
The bill states that teachers are not allowed to make suggestions as to what kind of reflection a student may engage in. A period of “silent prayer or meditation” was optional for school districts in Florida prior to the new law.
“It’s important to be able to provide each student the ability every day to reflect and be able to pray as they see fit,” the Republican governor said. “The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful, I’m sorry, our founding fathers did not believe that.”
The new law was sponsored by Republican state Rep. Randy Fine and passed the state House with a vote of 94-24 in March and the Senate 32-6 in April. It will be effective on July 1.
Meanwhile, Democrat State Representative Omari Hardy —who voted against it—criticized the bill as requiring prayer in schools.
“The Republican who sponsored the bill said that it wasn’t about prayer in school. (Of course, it was!),” Hardy tweeted. “But when you question their motives or their honesty, it’s called a personal attack & deemed out of order. No. The Republicans lie, and we need to call them on it every time.”
DeSantis also emphasized the initiatives to support the Jewish community in Florida, including securing funding for the state’s Jewish Day Schools, $1.35 million dollars for the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, $400,000 for the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, $100,000 for the Holocaust Task Force and others.
The governor also signed HB 805 into law, which ensures faith-based volunteer ambulance services can operate.
The Trump administration announced in January 2020 that they were updating federal guidance for prayer in public schools and other initiatives aimed at protecting religious freedom.
This announcement attracted criticism from nonprofit groups, including the American Atheists and Freedom From Religion Foundation.