Florida Governor Ron DeSantis filed an emergency appeal Thursday to restore his ban on school mask mandates after a lower court judge allowed school districts to continue allowing mandatory masking for returning children.

In his filing with the First District Court of Appeals in Florida, lawyers for DeSantis urged the court to reinstate the mask mandate ban while the legal case works its way through the court system. The lawyers argue that they “have a high likelihood of success on appeal” before accusing the trial court of “abusing its discretion” in vacating the automatic stay that followed DeSantis’ initial appeal.

On Aug. 27, Judge Leon Cooper of the Second Circuit Court of Florida ordered an end to DeSantis’ prohibition on school mask mandates, paving the way for school districts he threatened with funding cuts to continue with their policies.

In his first ruling, Cooper described DeSantis’ initial executive order against school masking requirements to be “without legal authority.” DeSantis appealed that decision on Sept. 3 which initiated a temporary pause on Cooper’s order.

On Wednesday, however, Cooper said that there was not enough irreparable harm to set aside the automatic stay triggered by the appeal. He justified his ruling by pointing out that Florida is currently a COVID-19 hot spot which would justify masking for school children. The alternative, he argued, would be keeping unvaccinated children at home which itself would carry more harm.

Cooper referred to the fact the Delta variant of COVID-19 is capable of infecting children more easily than earlier strains and the only options outside of masking or vaccination was home-isolation. Current COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children older than the age of 12, but not yet for those younger.

DeSantis and several local school districts have been locked in conflict over whether or not school officials can require students to wear masks as they return for the school year. After some defied his initial executive order in July, DeSantis and his administration have threatened to withhold salaries for officials in the defiant school districts.

Eaxactly how DeSantis, who is running for re-election in 2022, plans to punish the local school districts is unclear. Earlier, The New York Times reported that it is not immediately known how DeSantis’ administration plans to withhold any salaries from district officials because the state does not actually pay them. Cocoran, Florida’s Richard Education Commissioner, had recommended that funds equivalent to the salaries of school board members and superintendents could be deducted.

Opposition to mask mandates arrives at a time when Florida is widely considered the epicenter of the U.S.’ struggle against COVID-19. According to a CDC profile for Florida from the week of Sept. 3, the state experienced 129,601 new cases with many of its counties listed as at risk for high transmission.