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Orange County School Board Calls Executive Session To Discuss Masks, Legal Action

Teresa Jacobs at school board meeting
Orange County Public Schools
Board chair Teresa Jacobs says going without mandatory mask-wearing is "mental abuse" for children and not protecting the rights of our parents and our students.”

Chair Teresa Jacobs says the board on Monday will discuss options for passing a stricter mask mandate and possibly suing the state over its rules on such mandates.

The Orange County School Board has scheduled a closed-door, emergency executive session for Monday as COVID-19 cases among students and staff continue to surge in the Orlando region.

Chair Teresa Jacobs says the board will discuss with legal council options for passing a stricter mask mandate and possibly suing the state over its rules on such mandates.

Jacobs says the board will make recommendations on Tuesday to Superintendent Barbara Jenkins about making changes to the current mask policy.

“If we could be ready to have a discussion about our position on the inconsistencies and the violation, the contradiction between the rule and the statute and be prepared to potentially give direction to the superintendent.”

The district's current policy requires students to wear masks, but parents may opt out.

The district has already logged more than 1,000 cases and quarantines among students and teachers in the first two weeks of school.

Jacobs says time is of the essence, especially when there are kids in class now who are worried they’re going to get a vulnerable sibling sick simply by going to school. 

“That child is sitting in class thinking they are going to kill their brother or sister. Those are the stories I’m hearing. That is mental anguish. That is mental abuse. That is not protecting the rights of our parents and our students,” she says.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued an exeuctive order stating parents must decide whether their children wear masks to school. The state Department of Health and Board of Education have enacted rules to enforce the order.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran says states that do not follow the order could lose funding or officials could be removed from office. Despite that, a handful of districts have put in place mandates that allow only for medical opt-outs.

The Board of Education ruled this week that Alachua and Broward were not in compliance. Since then, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties have enacted similar policies.

Copyright 2021 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur