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DOE says LCS policy on masks for asymptomatic students is not in compliance with law

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:12 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - In a letter Friday afternoon, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told Leon County Schools it is still not in compliance with state law, despite the addition of a parental opt-out option on masks.

At issue is the district’s policy for asymptomatic students exposed to COVID; currently, if a student is exposed to COVID and is asymptomatic, they have the option to quarantine at home for seven days, or wear a mask inside school buildings for seven days. There is no parental opt-out in this case.

Commissioner Cororan said in his letter that School Board Member salaries will continue to be withheld until the District is in compliance.

LCS hammered out its policy at Tuesday’s school board meeting. Superintendent Hanna said as required, LCS responded to DOE within 48 hours of sanctions, notifying the state of the new mask policy starting Monday, October 18th.

Friday morning, Hanna was still waiting to see how the Department would respond to the issue of asymptomatic students; he received Commissioner Corcoran’s response that afternoon.

The district will have a response to the latest letter on Monday.

In addition to the battle with the Department of Education, Leon County is one of six districts challenging DOH’s emergency rule.

“The Constitution requires us to protect children from harm, and we feel as though we have been operating within the Parental Bill of Rights. We think the Department of Health overreached its statutory authority by creating a rule that even talks about parents opting out; their job is to create rules that protect against the spread of the disease,” Hanna said.

Hanna says the legal challenge will have long-term implications.

“In the future, let’s say we have another variant that comes through, and our numbers skyrocket like we saw in August. We’re going to go right back to this requirement, notwithstanding what the Governor says or what the rule says, at the end of the day it’s my responsibility and the School Board’s responsibility to keep our children safe,” Hanna said.

A two-day hearing in front of an Administrative Judge is set to begin on Thursday, October 21st.

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