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Orange, Indian River School Boards Enact Mask Mandates Without Parental Opt-Outs

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Orange County School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs says requiring masks in classrooms is the patriotic thing to do.

The counties are the ninth and 10th to defy the governor's executive order requiring parents to decide whether their children wear face coverings in school.

Orange County and Indian River County on Tuesday became the ninth and 10th school districts in the state to enact mask mandates with only medical exemptions.

The decisions are in opposition to the governor's executive order requiring parents to decide whether their children wear face coverings in school. Neither county will allow for parental opt-outs.

Enforcement begins Monday in both counties.

In Orange County, the policy will run for 60 days, when the board will reevaluate. Also, face shields will no longer qualify as an accepted form of facial covering.

Orange school board Chair Teresa Jacobs said requiring masks in classrooms is not only the smart thing to do, but it’s also patriotic.

“It is not our goal to ignore the law. It is our goal to challenge it. And that’s what we as Americans do,” Jacobs said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Orange is the ninth largest school district in the country with about 206,000 students.

The county’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 419 new cases on Monday alone, including 382 new cases in students and 37 adults. There were 262 new student cases on Tuesday.

Indian River’s policy, voted on at Tuesday’s school board meeting, includes kindergarten to eighth grade and runs through Sept. 15. High school students are not included.

As of Tuesday, 128 students and 74 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the district.

The board will reevaluate the policy at its next meeting.

Copyright 2021 WMFE

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.
Danielle Prieur