Alachua County Public Schools will require teachers, vendors, and visitors to wear masks

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 11:53 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Alachua County Public schools announced teachers, vendors, and visitors will have to wear masks when school starts back next week, however, the final COVID-19 protocols for children are not finalized.

The requirement will take effect Tuesday and last through Sept. 17. The district will then reassess the COVID data to determine if the requirement should remain in place.

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“With rates as high as they are, I felt the district had to take action to reduce the spread of COVID in our community and schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon. “The state has taken some options out of our hands, but this is something we can do to protect students and staff.”

The school board is meeting Tuesday to approve plans for back-to-school. Members are expected to make decisions on proposed mask-only computer labs. According to ACPS spokesperson Jackie Johnson, the district will not be able to require all students to wear masks.

“We’ve got families on both sides of the issue, we’ve got families who feel very strongly that masks need to be mandatory and others that feel very strongly masks should be voluntary,” said Johnson. “If you’ve been paying attention to what the governor been saying over the past few days he has made it very clear that the decision does not rest with school districts anymore.”

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Gov. Ron Desantis has signed an executive order allowing the Department of Education to withhold money from school districts that enact mask mandates. Congresswoman Kat Cammack agrees with the governor. She says because children are at lower risk for the virus, masks should not be mandated.

“We need to be focusing on the vulnerable population and this is a conversation where we need to have parents and teachers at the table,” said Cammack.

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