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School district mask policies across North Central Florida

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -The majority of the school districts in our area are choosing to make masks optional for students, teachers and staff this school year.

Clay County schools is strongly recommending masks but not requiring them. Marion County students have the optional route with a resolution that can be changed by school board members if COVID-19 circumstances change.

“I think at the end of the day it’s great that people have the option but really it’s up to the parents, it’s up to the students what they want to do, what’s best for them,” said Marion County Schools Public Information Officer, Greg Davis. “And the great thing about it is when students are going back parents can say ‘hey I want my child to still wear a mask’ and they’re still able to do that.”

RELATED STORY: Alachua County mask mandate unlikely after new CDC guidance

Bradford, Columbia and Dixie county school officials haven’t provided updates but stuck with an optional mask plan last school year.

“We’re trying to come up with solutions,” said Alachua County Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon.

The draft COVID-19 plan for Alachua County students calls for masks to be strongly encouraged while inside for those not fully vaccinated, but this plan still needs school board approval.

“And right now we’re still working out the logistics of it but we believe that we might be able to offer a mask-only option for E-school only students,” added Dr. Simon. “So they have to be full time E-school and it’s for 11 and under so this is for children who really can’t stay at home.”

Decisions have been made in Clay, Gilchrist, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Suwannee and Union counties to keep masks optional for students.

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“With the delta variant impacting students now and perhaps being even more dangerous to children, we need to be the adults and require the mask,” said President of the Alachua County Education Association, Carmen Ward.

As Alachua County school board members gear up for their COVID discussion, Ward is calling for paid COVID-19 leave for employees. As well as advocating for required masks for those who can’t be vaccinated.

“And we want them to be able to make the best choice for themselves, and for everyone in the school family because we have provided them with COVID leave to do so,” added Ward.

Alachua County school board members meet Tuesday evening to discuss the draft COVID-19 plan.

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