Masks will be optional at Lake County schools starting this summer

Face coverings required for remainder of 2020-21 academic year

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.)

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Students at Lake County schools have just a few weeks left before they’re no longer required to wear masks while on campus.

In a letter to parents, Lake County Schools Superintendent Diane S. Kornegay wrote that facial coverings will be required through the remainder of the academic year, which ends on June 4. After that, the plan is for masks to be optional during the summer and fall semesters.

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“We made a commitment to our over 40,000 students, parents and our 5,500 employees that we would keep our safety protocols in place for this year. We are going to honor that commitment and stay the course for just 19 more days,” the letter sent on Friday read.

Kornegay wrote that some parents asked for the mask mandate to be lifted after Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed an executive order nullifying coronavirus restrictions enacted by local governments but the Florida Department of Education said that order didn’t apply to public schools.

“Beginning on June 8, when voluntary summer programs begin, the district is planning to make masks optional for students and staff,” the letter read. “The Florida Department of Health in Lake County has seen a decline in the local COVID-19 positivity rate, a factor that helped district leadership feel comfortable proposing a change to the mask rules for summer.”

Kornegay added that the Pfizer vaccine could soon be approved for use on children as young as 12.

“Once that approval is granted, the district plans to partner with the health department once again to offer the vaccine to students, staff and community residents at select schools across the county,” she wrote.