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Friday, August 20, 2021

Orange County Public Schools take first step toward mask mandate

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2021 at 10:43 AM

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Orange County Public Schools took the first step toward a full mask mandate on Thursday, with school board members asking district lawyers to research the best way to impose a mandate under Florida's restrictions

"I am fully in support of putting mandates back in place,” said school board chair Teresa Jacobs during the board's work session.“I think we need to aggressively challenge the rule."

Gov. Ron DeSantis promised punishment for school districts who imposed mask mandates, giving the state Board of Education the ability to strip funding from schools that required masks. Several districts have already defied the order, leading to threats of removing superintendents from Tallahassee officials.

Jacobs seemed prepared to take up the matter as early as next Tuesday's board meeting. Other board members argued that the mandate couldn't come quick enough.

“I agree we need to pursue every legal means possible,” said board member Melissa Byrd. “I just respectfully disagree that we need to wait and allow what is happening in our schools to continue with kids not masked.”

Orange County has seen a spike in coronavirus cases among its students. Department of Health officials told WKMG that the virus was "absolutely" spreading within Orange County schools, noting that the positivity rate within the district is 16 percent.

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