Volusia, Seminole County schools work to drop mask mandate as Orange County announces end of online schooling program

The tide is turning against coronavirus-restricting measures in Central Florida's public schools. Both Volusia and Seminole County started the process of  ending their mask mandates for students and faculty this week. At the same time, Orange County Public Schools axed an online education program that had kept kids out of in-person schools through the pandemic.

In Volusia County, the school board voted to temporarily amend their mask policy. The successful amendment made masks in area schools for faculty and students optional instead of mandatory. The policy itself is set to expire in 28 days, and board members plan to vote on a less-conditional policy before that time.

Seminole County took similar measures during a heated school board meeting on May 12 that saw several parents escorted from the building. After a long, contentious debate, they voted to start on the path toward ending the mask mandate. The school board is required to wait 28 days before voting on an eventual repeal of their mask policy.

In Orange County, Superintendent Barbara Jenkins shared that they would not be running the online education program LaunchED@Home in the coming school year. Jenkins said the county couldn't leave parents and students in suspense as they await a decision on the program from the state's Department of Education, adding that they would reconsider if the state opted to continue the program.

"Seminole, Brevard, Osceola, Lake and Volusia have all determined it's just time to make that decision," Jenkins shared at the school board meeting. Parents, families and schools and teachers should not have to continue to wait."

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