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Leon County Schools Will Go Along With State's Quarantine Change

 Superintendent of Schools Rocky Hanna holds a press conference at the Leon County School District Office this Monday afternoon to address concerns over changing mask mandates and policies in the wake of a surge in cases brought on by the delta variant of COVID-19.
Superintendent Rocky Hanna holds a press conference at the Leon County School District office on Monday afternoon.

The district will allow asymptomatic children to stay in school. Those students will still have to wear a mask, though.

The Leon County School District will allow asymptomatic children to stay in school. Those students will still have to wear a mask, though. And sick children or those who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 will have to remain home unless they get a clean PCR test.

The district's policy change comes after the Florida Department of Health revised its rule governing student quarantines.

The change gives parents more authority to decide whether children should stay home after being exposed to people who have COVID-19 if the children are asymptomatic. The updated rule says schools “shall allow parents or legal guardians the authority to choose how their child receives education after having direct contact with an individual that is positive for COVID-19.”

Superinendent Rocky Hanna said the district needs to be "in concert" with any Department of Health rules, but added "we can never be less restrictive."

"I feel it's appropriate in some cases to be more restrictive, which is what we’ve done.” he said.

Hanna remains opposed to additional rule department revisions that give parents sole decision-making over school masking. A lawsuit filed by several districts, including Leon, over the issue was recently dismissed. Hanna says he'll sue again.

A dozen other Florida districts are also defying Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attempts to ban mandatory masking in schools and allow parents to decide for their children.

Alachua and Broward counties were fined by the health department the amount of funding equal to the salaries of school district officials who voted for mandates. The federal government promised it would cover the lost wages, and the U.S. Department of Education recently reimbursed Alachua.

Leon has fought to keep its mandatory mask policy in place, amid mounting pressure from the state and threats of funding cuts and removal from office.
“I was hoping we could all work as a team to see our state and local communities through this pandemic. I think it's obvious the governor doesn’t want to have a team, he wants a team of one. But I have to do what I think is best for the children of Tallahassee and Leon County," Hanna said.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.