In the state of Florida, public school students are not required to wear a mask to school in most districts.
Recently, in Leon County, Superintendent Rocky Hanna has opted out of enforcing a mandatory mask requirement for elementary and middle school students. Now, parents have the choice to send their children to school with or without a face mask.
According to Tallahassee.com, Hanna said he made the change not because of threats from the state but because recent data revealed that COVID numbers were drastically declining.
“We are crafting a policy that almost puts the district in compliance and puts student safety first,” Hanna said.
The state Board of Education found Leon County out of compliance with the Florida Department of Health’s emergency rule that banned local mask mandates. Leon County School Board members have had their wages garnished when the district had a mask mandate in place.
According to Elijah Keys, Superintendent of Gadsden County Schools, the school district is adhering to the state’s policy.
“Gadsden does not have a mask mandate,” said Keys. “We have strongly recommended mask-wearing and our students, staff and parents have responded tremendously in favor of wearing masks.”
Derilyn Moore, the parent of two students at Crossroad Academy Charter School of Business in Gadsden County, thinks that wearing a face mask is a great idea to keep students safe from contracting the sometimes deadly virus.
“I always make sure my daughters have a mask for school,” said Moore. “I always tell them to keep the mask on and to stay out of people faces. That is a good way to not get sick. I tell them every morning before they get out of the car, mask-up and back up.”
A charter school is not exempt from state rules or policies the governor or Board of Education enacts. Crossroad Academy hosted a mandatory parent meeting addressing new policies issued by the state and discussed how the pandemic has affected students.
In response to COVID-19, Kevin Forehand, the school’s principal, said they strongly recommended masks and vaccinations for students who are eligible.
Forehand said that there is a seating chart in place, and if a student does not sit in close proximity of someone who tested positive, the parent may not be contacted.
“There are new policies that have been implemented to contact parents if their child is exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19,” said Forehand. “We do not contact you if there is a student placed in quarantine; the health department does. “They will not allow us to do that anymore.”
It is clear that the leadership teams in Leon and Gadsden counties are considering the best options to maintain the safety of all students. Wearing a mask is not mandated, but it is strongly recommended.