School districts banned from implementing COVID mandates

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:13 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Some schools in north central Florida are now changing their policies to align with state laws signed Thursday.

As part of this new legislation, it prohibits government agencies and educational institutions to mandate masks, or mandate that their employees and students get the COVID vaccine.

Alachua County school board members had their salaries withheld for failing to follow the state’s previous COVID policies.

The district sent out this message to families at the end of the day Thursday:

Earlier today a new state law was signed that blocks public schools in Florida from requiring masks for students. As a result, masks are now optional for all students, and an opt out form is no longer required for families who do not want their child to wear a mask in school or on a school bus.

Alachua County Public School students may wear masks in school if their families wish, and masks are still recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The new law also allows parents to decide if a student with no symptoms should quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. Quarantining is strongly recommended for unvaccinated people who have contact with a positive COVID case, and is still required for anyone with symptoms.

We encourage students and families to continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID in our schools, homes and community.

The district will also no longer require students to quarantine if they come in contact with those who’ve tested positive.

In Marion County, public school officials said it’s business as usual.

“We’ve never required anybody to have the vaccine. We don’t require people to wear a face mask. It’s completely the student and the teacher’s option to wear one,” MCPS Public Relation Officer, Greg Davis said.

Davis said they will stick with current policies for masks, vaccines and quarantine.

“Only if they’re showing symptoms. That’s the only requirement for quarantine,” he said.

Students and parents may sue their school districts if their educational institutions violate the new legislation.

Marion County also sent us this statement on the newly passed legislation:

“At this time, the county is reviewing the bills that were passed in the Florida Legislature’s special session yesterday. After this process is complete, findings will be brought to the Board of County Commissioners for their review and direction.”

- Amanda Tart, Executive Director of Administrative Services

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