Alachua County School Board adopts mask order for all in schools

The school district will provide masks to all students and staff for their return to brick & mortar schools
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 11:52 PM EDT
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More than 1500 people tuned into the Alachua County school board meeting as they discussed fine-tuning their reopening plans. Students could enjoy an extra stretch of summer break before going back to class.

Dozens of people called in to the school board’s special meeting to offer input on a mask mandate and while many support it, some questioned, how will masks work in different age groups?

Dr. Darlene Kertes, a professor in developmental psychology at UF said, "I think that the key here is for the adults in the child's life to be having, to be giving clear and consistent messaging.

Dr. Kertes also says to start teaching kids now, the importance of wearing a mask. "And unfortunately, that's not happening in our society now and mask-wearing has become a politicized issue and I really lament that because I feel like we should be following the guidance of what science is telling us."

After nearly three hours of discussion, the school board voted unanimously to adopt the mask mandate into their brick & mortar reopen plans. One parent says she knows it won't be easy to enforce masks in schools but it's necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

Meghan Powers said, "So they know how to do it and I constantly have to remind them. So I can see that kind of being the new stop running in the halls, if you will for school rooms. Basically that's going to be every other second for those little people until they can get into that habit."

The amended mandate requires students in all grades to wear a mask in the building. With three kids in elementary school, Powers sees no other way to send them back than with a mask on.

Powers added, “The only way that I can feel even slightly comfortable with sending my children back in any sort of setting that’s going to be in-person even if it is going to be split schedule or something unique, is going to be with masks.

Exceptions exist for students with a doctor’s note and staff teaching students who are hearing-impaired. Check out the full meeting here.

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