A Florida judge on Wednesday ruled against Gov. Ron DeSantis and allowed schools to issue mask mandates as the case is appealed at a higher level.

Second Circuit Judge John Cooper’s ruling comes after DeSantis told Florida public schools they were banned from placing mask requirements despite the soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases. If they placed mandates, DeSantis threatened to cut school districts’ funding. 

Cooper’s ruling will now allow schools to place COVID-19 safety measures like mask requirements to protect their students, many of who are under the age of 12 and are not yet eligible to get the vaccine, CNN reports. 

“We have a variant that’s more infectious and more dangerous to children than the one we had last year,” Cooper said when issuing his ruling. “We’re in a non-disputed pandemic situation with threats to young children who, at least based on the evidence, have no way to avoid this unless they stay home and isolate themselves. I think everybody agrees that’s not good for them.”

Cooper added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks for students and staff in schools as “the gold standard” of COVID-19 safety. 

The case will now go to the First District Court of Appeal, where they will “thoroughly consider the arguments of all parties, and they'll make a decision, then it may or may not end up at the Florida Supreme Court," Cooper said.

Florida is not the only state that has issued mask mandate bans on public schools. 

Last month, the Department of Education opened a civil rights investigation into Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah for issuing these mask-wearing blocks. The investigation argued that the five states are blocking COVID-19 safety protocols and “preventing school districts in the state from considering or meeting the needs of students with disabilities.”

The U.S. reported over 300 thousand new COVID cases on Tuesday, of which over 56 thousand were in Florida.