Polk County Public Schools drops all mask requirements for students, staff

New rules take effect Wednesday

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – School leaders in Polk County have voted to drop all masking requirements for students and staff in the district.

The school board made the decision Tuesday night in a unanimous vote, according to a news release. The new rules take effect Wednesday and state that face coverings are no longer required in Polk County Public Schools buildings, offices or buses, the district said.

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Face coverings and masks will be optional for students and staff for the upcoming school year, according to the release.

“We still continue to encourage masks for anybody who is not vaccinated, but we are giving the option and flexibility to families and staff to make those decisions,” Frederick Heid, incoming PCPS superintendent said in a statement.

The district added students who opt to wear a face mask must comply with general dress code and uniform requirements.

Several school districts across Central Florida are still making decisions about whether to make face coverings optional in the new school year.

The Osceola County school board decided to make masks optional for all students, parents and employees in district buildings starting July 1. While masks will become optional at district buildings, they will still be required on school buses. The district said this is in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for public transportation.

School districts in Brevard and Lake counties have already decided to make masks optional for the next school year.

Marion County has voted to make masks optional for summer school, but school leaders there are still waiting to decide whether that will apply to the 2021-2022 school year.

Volusia County school leaders are set to vote on a plan to make masks optional on June 14.

Orange County school leaders have drafted a proposal that would make masks voluntary for the upcoming school year. The proposed policy is set to be presented during a Rule Development Workshop on June 17 with public input, according to the district, and then a vote by the school board and final policy adoption will take place at the July 13 school board meeting with public comment.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.