Brevard County School Board discusses mask mandate

District getting pressured from Florida Department of Education to drop the mandate

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Brevard County School Board will meet Tuesday to discuss its mask mandate due to pressure from the Florida Department of Education to drop the mandate and a new rule by the Florida Department of Health allowing parents to opt asymptomatic children out of quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.

School Board Chair Misty Belford said she called the meeting based on the advice of the board’s general counsel, Paul Gibbs. The board has now received two letters from the Florida Department of Education asking for proof that the district is complying with the agency’s rule against mask mandates that do not allow parents to opt out and saying the state would withhold board member salaries if the district does not comply.

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Belford and Gibbs replied to the first letter on Sept. 8 saying the School Board implemented the mask mandate to protect the rights of students to have access to a safe education. Because the Florida Department of Education has withheld salaries for all board members in Alachua and Broward counties not just members who voted in favor of mask mandates, Gibbs thought it would be best to convene the entire School Board in order to respond. The Department of Education has found Alachua and Broward in violation of its mask rule.

The agenda for the meeting states that the board will “discuss the new DOH Emergency Rule 64DER21-15 and whether to continue with the face-covering mandate.” The current mask mandate is set to expire near the end of October.

The agenda refers to a rule the FDOH passed Sept. 22 that allows parents to opt asymptomatic children out of quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.

Speakers on Tuesday will be given one minute to address the board. Speakers have three minutes to speak at regular board meetings.

The U.S. Department of Education has used COVID-19 relief funds to reimburse Alachua and Broward County, the first to counties to defy DeSantis and institute mask mandates that don’t allow parents to opt out students without documentation of a medical condition that prevents them from wearing masks.