Mask policy discussion at ACPS School Board meeting forces ASO deputies to remove a woman not wearing a mask

People for and against a mask policy spoke up at the Alachua County Schook Board Meeting. This...
People for and against a mask policy spoke up at the Alachua County Schook Board Meeting. This tense topic even led to a recess as one woman who refused to wear a mask was escorted out of the meeting.(WCJB)
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 12:22 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A packed Alachua County School Board meeting was filled with parents ready to plead their case for or against masks in schools.

“We must do what is best for the children and allow optional masks,” said one parent who was opposed to the mask policy discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. Another parent said, “masking should be optional based on the needs of the family.”

One mother said masks shouldn’t be required if there is no emergency order, “masks should only be required during a declared state or county of emergency, which is missing from the current draft of the proposed policy.”

One after another, parents stood up or called in to voice their concerns with a mask mandate. Supporters of the mandate also spoke up to ensure their voice was heard.

“I’m just calling to support the mask mandate,” said one parent who called in virtual to express their support for the policy.

Another parent called in and said, “I’m going to call in support of the masking policy.”

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While parents were getting up to speak or calling in about the mask policy, the mask debate took center stage at the meeting. A woman was not wearing a mask inside the building. She said it was due to health reasons and that caused the debate over masks to come to a stop. Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies eventually led this woman out of the building.

There are signs around the district property informing people of the mask requirement. A virtual public comment option is available for those who are not able to attend in person.

Board members ultimately voted 5-0 to move this proposal forward.

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The school district currently has a mask mandate, but the changes to this policy would allow the superintendent to enforce mask mandates during a pandemic or epidemic at her discretion. Also, district leaders would be able to enforce this mandate during “times of elevated communicable disease spread.”

There will be a public hearing and a second reading before any new policy or updates are finalized.

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