Central Florida schools don’t plan to do away with mask mandates just yet

Academic year ends in a few weeks

Students wear masks they work in a fourth-grade classroom, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, at Elk Ridge Elementary School in Buckley, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) (Ted S. Warren, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Although Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order Monday suspending all COVID-19 restrictions enacted by local governments, including mask mandates, Central Florida school districts are still reacting to the news and determining how to move forward.

The governor’s executive order, available here, says that all COVID-19 emergency orders issued before July 1 are invalidated.

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DeSantis clarified that these rules apply only to government and still allow private businesses, such as grocery stores or theme parks, to continue putting masking rules in place.

The Florida Department of Education issued a clarification of its own Monday evening, saying that the two executive orders the governor issued don’t impact campuses.

“Questions have arisen over the impacts of the Executive Orders EO-21-101, which is not effective until July 1, 2021, and EO-21-102, which is effective immediately. To clarify, EO-21-102 only impacts city and county governments, and does not impact school districts and individual schools. Moreover, EO-21-101 and EO-21-102 only impacts restrictive COVID-19 orders/ordinances that are adopted through emergency enactment. Neither EO-21-101 nor EO-21-102 impact any school district’s policies for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year,” the agency said in a statement.

With the academic year set to end before the month is over, local education leaders said they don’t have plans to change their coronavirus safety precautions before the semester ends as of now.

News 6 contacted school districts for their reactions to the governor’s move on Monday. Below are their responses.

Orange County Public Schools

“OCPS families, we are aware of the Governor’s press conference announcement earlier today regarding the issuing of a new executive order. Once received, the Governor’s Executive Order will be reviewed. As of today, no changes have been made to our safety protocols. The safety protocols are detailed in the Health & Safety Procedures Manual,” the district said.

Seminole County Public Schools

“We have become aware of the Governor’s Press Conference today. Once received, the Governor’s Executive Order will be reviewed and analyzed. For the time being, all safety policies, including the wearing of masks while on District property, remain in place,” the district wrote on Facebook.

Volusia County Schools

“The Florida Department of Education will also be sending direction to school districts. As soon as the Executive Order and direction are released we will update you. At this time, there are no changes to our policies or procedures,” a Facebook post read.

This story will be updated as more responses are received.