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Brevard, Lee Counties Enact Mask Mandates Without Parental Opt-Outs

Brevard County School Baord chair Misty Belford sees "a serious crisis" involving COVID-19 in the schools. Image: BCSB via YouTube
Brevard County School Board/YouTube
Brevard County School Baord Chair Misty Belford sees "a serious crisis" involving COVID-19 in the schools.

Brevard's mandate was approved by a 3-2 school board vote, while Lee's was enacted by a decision by the interim superintendent.

Brevard and Lee counties have enacted mask mandates without parental opt-outs in the wake of a judge deciding that Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order on the issue was unconstitutional.

The Brevard County School Board voted 3-2 at an emergency meeting Monday to require students and adults to wear masks to lessen the spread of COVID-19.
The Brevard County decision follows a ruling last week by a Leon County Circuit Judge John Coooper overturning the governor's mask mandate.

School Board member Jennifer Jenkins called for the requirement and board Chair Misty Belford supported the mandate, which will be in effect for 30 days.

Alford says in the three weeks since schools opened, the prevalence of COVID-19 on campus has far outpaced its presence in the community at large.

She sees “a serious crisis” and a small window of opportunity to address it.
“I don’t know that masks are the silver bullet and I’m not in favor of long-term mask mandates,” Belford said. “But I do know without a doubt that what we are currently doing is not working and the options available to us to respond are incredibly limited.”

Lee County schools interim Superintendent Ken Savage implemented the district's mask mandate for students and staff that takes effect Wednesday. On Monday, he said the policy will be reassed after 30 days.

Savage's order did not require action by the school board, but members voted Monday night to reaffirm to decision.

Lee began the school year with a policy that allowed parents to opt out.

Meanwhile, the Lake County school board has decided to hold a special meeting Friday to review COVID-19 data.

Lake County board member Kristi Burns pleaded with the others Monday to take the COVID threat to students and staff more seriously.

“I am telling you from my morals and my own ethics something is wrong in the state of Lake County,” she said at a board workshop. “I don’t understand what is going on with all of you. Like, this is a problem and everyone’s in denial.”

On the advice of its attorney, the board is taking a more cautious approach to the judge’s ruling — which hasn’t been signed yet and is expected to be appealed.

The board will meet at a larger venue after conflicts occurred outside the last meeting about masks.

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