OCPS will require all students to wear masks, starting Monday.
Orange County Public Schools voted to impose a 60-day mask mandate on all students at their school board meeting on Tuesday.
The decision came the day after OCPS saw its single highest day of new COVID-19 cases yet. August 23 saw 382 new confirmed coronavirus cases among students and 37 cases among faculty.
The district's teachers union gathered before the meeting to hold a protest calling for stricter mask policies
. In a representative post of the the mood of the union, representatives vented to Facebook over the county's lax mask requirements.
"Your decisions are responsible for our children getting sick. Your decisions are responsible for our employees getting sick," they wrote. "Your denial of CDC-recommended guidelines, your failure to notify parents and employees of positive cases in real time, your blotched quarantine system that you blame on FLDOH, your nontransparent COVID-19 dashboard, your lack of urgency to act, and your failure to lead has now caused more illness in our schools, worksites and community."
The new mask mandate will require all students to wear masks on campus for 60 days. The rule contains a medical exemption that can only be granted with a note from a doctor or medical practitioner. The vote urged superintendent Barbara Jenkins to issue the mandate and she set a start date of next Monday, August 30.
Orange County is the ninth school district in Florida to defy state orders against mask mandates
in schools. The Department of Education has threatened to pull funding
equivalent to the salaries of school board members and superintendents in districts that fail to comply. This wasn't enough of a threat for OCPS representatives.
“There is no other motivation for me as a school board member, other than to keep our children and our employees safe,”Chairwoman Teresa Jacobs. “This is not about my salary.”
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