Orange County School Board receives letter giving 48 hours to comply with state mask rules

Orange, Brevard, 6 other districts found not in compliance with state mask requirements

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A letter from the state Board of Education was sent to the Orange County school board Tuesday, giving the district 48 hours to comply before facing financial consequences.

The district is one of eight, including Brevard County, the state found was not in compliance with mask rules set forth by the Department of Health. Brevard County Public Schools also received its 48-hour notice on Tuesday.

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The Florida Department of Health issued a revised rule last month that continues to require that parents be able to opt students out of school-mask requirements, including a change that takes aim at some school districts that only allow opt-outs for documented medical reasons. That change says opting out of mask requirements is “at the parent or legal guardian’s sole discretion.”

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran recommended that if the school boards do not comply once they are given the 48-hour notice, then they would be penalized financially in an amount equal to the monthly salaries of board members.

Orange County Public Schools has a universal mask mandate in place through October. Brevard Public Schools has a policy in place that would give parents the choice to opt-out their children from the mandate if community spread dips to 50 cases per 100,000.

Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins spoke at a state board of education meeting last week, saying their current universal mask policy was legal.

“We believed requiring face masks in our schools was the best way to protect students and staff,” Jenkins said.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.