Orange County schools reinstate mask mandate for adults as schools prepare to reopen


ORLANDO, Florida – With schools restarting and an omicron wave of COVID-19 growing, districts are urging students, parents and staff to prepare.

Orange County School Board President Teresa Jacobs said the district would reinstate its adult mask mandate from Tuesday.

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Regarding students, Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins said, “There is no requirement for students, but face masks can add another layer of protection.”

Orange County, like all school districts in Florida, cannot impose masks in schools after Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature banned it last year.

“The legislation was drafted to hold parents accountable and protect students from forced masking policies,” DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw told News 6. “The law also protects employees from vaccination warrants, but it does not mention the employer’s mask mandates. However, Governor DeSantis has publicly criticized all mask mandates, and in particular employers requiring employees to wear masks. “

But of course they can offer the suggestion, as do the Osceola and Seminole school districts.

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The Osceola County School District spent the holiday weekend posting to Facebook, urging students to take a COVID test if they have traveled or been exposed to the virus and to stay home if they are. sick.

A representative from the Osceola County School District said Monday their public schools had 12,660 excused absences, more than double the number of absences they had on a given day in December.

In Lake County, all schools now have test kits so staff and students, with parents’ permission, can take a test on site if they feel ill.

Seminole County Schools Superintendent Serita Beamon sent a letter to staff on Monday letting them know they could pick up home test kits Monday from drive-thru sites at two schools and that “SCPS s ‘is committed to maintaining an opportunity for students to engage in traditional activities. learning experiences with their teachers and peers.

In a statement, a representative from the school said they will also extend COVID-19 testing to the Oviedo campus in Seminole state and the Ministry of Health.

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Seminole, nor any other district, has a choice of having students “engage in traditional learning experiences.” A spokesperson for Orange County Schools said the state does not approve of schools offering an alternate brick-and-mortar replacement option for this school year.

Seminole has said he will not be reactivating his virtual school at this time.

Orange County currently offers a virtual school.

DeSantis said at a press conference in South Florida on Monday morning that schools would not be closing.

“Our schools will be open in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “They (the children) must be in school, the parents must be assured that they will be able to send their children to school.”

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