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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Orange County's school board elects to remove mask mandates

Diverse set of child portrait avatars wearing face masks.

Parents will be able to opt out their children from wearing masks as of Monday As numbers of COVID cases have decreased across the state, Orange and other districts have reevaluated mask mandates.

Orange County schools are dropping a mandate that students wear masks. Superintendent Barbara Jenkins announced Thursday that parents will be able to opt out their children from wearing masks as of Monday.

“After speaking with local medical advisers and board members, noting the significant reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases in Orange County and hearing Mayor (Jerry) Demings announce the end of his local emergency order, I have determined not to extend our face mask mandate for students,” Jenkins wrote in a note to families and staff members.

The announcement came as Orange County and five other school districts have challenged a Florida Department of Health rule aimed at preventing mask mandates. The Department of Health rule carried out a July 30 executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who contends that parents should be able to decide whether their children wear masks. An administrative law judge is expected to issue a decision by Nov. 5 in the rule challenge.

As numbers of COVID-19 cases have decreased across the state, Orange and other districts have reevaluated mask mandates. The Leon County School Board, which also has been part of the legal challenge, decided this week to come into compliance with the rule. The Brevard County schools last week announced the county had reached a benchmark in local cases that would trigger a repeal of a student mask policy.