Orange County Public Schoolsâ€™ 60-day mask mandate won’t be reinstated due to “significant reduction” in COVID-19 cases in Orange County, official says
Two of Floridaâ€™s largest school districts are easing up on their masks requirement this week.
Starting Monday, Orange County students can stop wearing face masks if their parents provide a note opting them out. In Broward County, high school students can choose to wear a mask starting Monday, and itâ€™s strongly encouraged, but it will still be mandatory for middle and elementary school students.
Orange County Public Schoolsâ€™ 60-day mask mandate expired Saturday. Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said it would not be extended in part because of the â€œsignificant reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases in Orange County.â€�
The districtâ€™s employees, parents and visitors must still wear face masks in schools, Jenkins said, a mandate likely to remain in place until Dec. 3, though that could change based on COVID-19 data,Â according to theÂ Orlando Sentinel.
In Broward County, board members said mask mandates and current quarantine policies should stay in place for the lower grades until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available for children ages 5 through 11. The vaccine already is available to children 12 years and older.
â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s a very fair situation to put our young ones and their families at risk,â€� said Nora Rupert,Â according to theÂ Miami Herald.
Eight school districts have defied Gov. Ron DeSantisâ€™ order that only parents should decide if their children wear masks, not school district officials. The state has levied fines against Broward and Alachua countiesâ€™ school districts equivalent to the annual salaries of the school board members who voted for mask mandates.
In response, the Biden administration has sent $420,957 to Broward County Public Schools and $148,000 to Alachua County Public Schools to offset the fines.
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