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Monday, October 25, 2021

Orange County school board leave mask mandate off agenda as expiration date looms

Posted By on Mon, Oct 25, 2021 at 12:15 PM

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Orange County Public Schools may stop requiring students to wear masks next month.

Though the school district is currently locked in a legal battle with the state over their decision to implement mask mandates amid a startling COVID-19 spike in county schools, the school board appears ready to let their mandate end. The district sent out a notification on Monday that their final meeting of October would not include a proposal to extend the mask mandate.

"Tomorrow’s regularly scheduled school board meeting does NOT have the topic of mask requirements on the agenda," OCPS' Michael Ollendorff wrote in a statement. "Our current mask requirement remains in place until Oct. 30."

The release came as Orange County Democrats and the group Mask Up OCPS were holding a protest outside the school district's administration building on Monday morning. Ultimately, they appear to have faith that Superintendent Barbara Jenkins will use her discretion to push for an extended mandate.

"We are not surprised that it is not on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting. The School Board voted in August to empower Superintendent Dr. Jenkins to make the decision," said Orange County Democratic Party Chair Wes Hodge. "We fully expect Dr. Jenkins to announce her decision on a possible extension during her report to the school board during the meeting."

Lora Vail of Mask Up OCPS noted that the mandate wasn't on the agenda for the August meeting where the initial mandate was enacted.

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