Florida education department investigating Orange County schools over mask policy

Current policy at OCPS shows students must wear masks until end of October

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Education is launching an investigation into the Orange County Public School district over its latest mask mandate, according to Education Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.

Currently, Orange County students will have to wear masks until the end of October. Students can opt-out of the policy with a note from their doctor.

Board members voted for this new policy after school leaders saw a rise in COVID-19 cases in the district.

[RELATED: UPDATE: Central Florida school districts share latest mask policy]

Corcoran said the department of health adopted an emergency rule saying students can opt-out of any mask policy with permission from their parents.

This past Friday a Florida judge blocked DeSantis’ ban on school mask mandates, the judge said the ban was not legal.

DeSantis signed an executive order in July making giving parents the option to opt their child from wearing a mask in class.

[RELATED: Florida withholds school board salaries from 2 districts with mask mandates]

DeSantis said he is appealing the ruling.

Corcoran issued a letter to OCPS superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins and School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs letting the district know about the investigation.

Letter from Commissioner Corcoran can be viewed above

The state said OCPS has until 5 p.m. Wednesday to show the state they are complying with the emergency rule from the department of health.

[RELATED: New mask mandate starts for Orange County students]

“I intend to recommend to the State Board of Education that the department withhold funds in an amount equal to the salaries for all the members of the school board, as well as other sanctions authorized by law, until the district comes into compliance,” Corcoran wrote in the letter.

Alachua and Broward counties have similar policies as Orange County.

On Monday, state officials said they were withholding monthly school board salaries from Alachua and Broward counties.