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Leon County Schools to allow parents to “opt-out” of expanded mask mandate

The board says the opt-out form will go home with students on Wednesday and will be available through the district’s website.
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 9:22 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Less than 12 hours before the start of the new school year, the Leon County School Board revised a district-wide mask mandate.

All students in Pre-K through the 12th grade will be required to wear a mask unless a parent fills out the proper “opt-out” form. The form vacates the need for a doctor’s note and will be available at school and online. They are due by Monday, August 16, according to the district website.

Guidance from the district was posted late Tuesday night to its Website as follows:

Masks Required –

  • Temporary use of masks is required for Pre-K - 8th-grade students while indoors throughout the Leon County School District. Ex: In-Class, transportation (buses), after-school programs, etc. Masks are not required outside. For parents who want to opt their Pre-K - 8th-grade student(s) out of the mask requirement due to health concerns, they will need to submit a mask opt-out form. The mask opt-out form is due by Monday, August 16 to the student’s school.
  • Masks are strongly encouraged for 9 - 12th-grade students and are a student’s personal responsibility.
  • Temporary use of masks is required for district employees when six feet of distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Temporary use of masks is required for visitors, volunteers, mentors and outside vendors at high schools during the school day.
  • Masks are one of many mitigation methods to help prevent COVID-19 transmission but are not a substitute for vaccinations.
  • Extra masks will be available at all school sites for students, employees, and visitors.
  • Parents should initiate a request if they wish for help with compliance of mask-wearing for their child.
  • Schools and teachers will provide “reasonable assistance” to aid in student mask use.
  • The administration should be involved and speak with parents and assist the student with wearing their masks if needed. The health department is available to provide families guidance and assistance on mask use.
  • Staff will be encouraged to reduce stigma in classrooms for both masked and unmasked students.

Tuesday night’s announcement came after more than three hours of discussion during a passionate and emotionally charged meeting and was the latest change in a recent series.

Initially, Superintendent Rocky Hanna announced over the Summer that there would be no mask mandate on campus for the 2021-22 school year. He then changed course after a stark rise in cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

On Monday, the district announced masks would be required for all Pre-K through eighth-grade students, with the only exceptions being a doctor’s note. However, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran sent the district a formal letter announcing he was opening an investigation into compliance with state laws regarding mask mandates. “Depending on the facts presented,” it said, Corcoran may recommend to the State Board of Education that the Department “withhold funds in an amount equal to the salaries for the Superintendent and all the members of the School Board.”

To watch Tuesday’s meeting, see below or click here.

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