DOE meets with 11 Florida school districts over COVID-19 protocols

Orange County Public Schools currently has universal mask mandate in place

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Department of Education will be having a meeting Thursday with school districts from 11 Florida counties.

Leaders from Orange County Public Schools and Brevard County Public Schools will be at the meeting.

The meeting is expected to discuss compliance when it comes to COVID-19 protocols in schools. The Florida Board of Education is considering sanctions against the rebel boards who have defied Gov. Ron DeSantis’ summertime executive order against school mask mandates.

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Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has called on the state board to withhold a month’s worth of pay from board members and withhold an amount equaling any federal grants meant to make up the difference, according to News 6 partners Florida Today. The action would thwart Biden Administration attempts to replace the withheld school board salaries using COVID-19 relief funds.

Ahead of the meeting, News 6 spoke with Dr. Akinyemi Ajayi, a pediatric pulmonologist who is also on the OCPS Medical Advisory Committee.

“I would assume that it isn’t a coincidence, I would assume that they probably are trying to ensure that when they go to the Department of Education for their meeting, that they go in with updated guidance from the medical specialists,” Ajayi said.

In a letter on the Department of Education website dated Oct. 4, Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote to the State Board of Education members, “I find there is probable cause that Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) acted contrary to the law by requiring students to wear a mask or face covering unless certain exceptions apply, such as a medical certification.”

OCPS currently has a universal mask mandate in place.

News 6 asked OCPS what their argument to the DOE will be, and in an email, their media relations manager said, “The district does not comment on pending investigatory proceedings.”

The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday.

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.