Orange County schools respond to education department’s investigation over mask policy

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

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools responded back to the Florida Department of Education regarding its mask mandate.

OCPS had until 5 p.m. on Wednesday to respond to Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran on how the district was following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in schools.

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.

If OCPS did not respond to the state, Corcoran said he was going to recommend the department of education to withhold school board member’s salaries.

The response from OCPS is not exactly what the state wants to hear.

Letter from OCPS can be viewed above

In the letter, OCPS said the district has three tools to stop the spread of coronavirus. The three tools are social distancing, vaccines and masks.

OCPS cited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from Aug. 5 recommending universal masking indoors.

Orange County schools also mentioned the Leon County lawsuit.

This past Friday a Florida judge said school districts can enact mask mandates. Corcoran said the department of health adopted an emergency rule saying students can opt-out of any mask policy with permission from their parents.

DeSantis said he is appealing the judge’s ruling.

OCPS started the school year with a mask mandate allowing students to opt-out with parent permission.

Two weeks into the school year, high amounts of coronavirus cases were reported in Central Florida.

The district decided to put in a 60-day mask mandate and students could only opt-out with a note from their doctor.

“Given the community spread at this time, mandatory masking is the only remaining tool for the school board to ensure students stay in school as much as possible,” the OCPS letter reads to Corcoran.

The district said without a mask mandate the end result would likely equate to more quarantines and school closures.

Letter from Commissioner Corcoran can be viewed above

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.