© 2024 Central Florida Public Media. All Rights Reserved.
90.7 FM Orlando • 89.5 FM Ocala
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Richard Corcoran To Florida School Boards: Make Masking Optional

Photo: AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser, File
FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2018, file photo, Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran speaks at a press conference on school safety at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Nearly half of the payments Florida lawmakers have made in the past two years to people harmed by the government were pushed by the Corcoran's brother, Michael Corcoran. The success of the well-connected lobbying firm has intensified a persistent debate among lawmakers as to who does _ and doesn’t _ get paid. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser, File)

Florida’s education commissioner has told school districts that masks in schools should be optional.

Richard Corcoran sent the memo Wednesday, saying that policies requiring face masks create a barrier for families who would otherwise send their kids to school.

"The data shows us that districts' face covering policies do not impact the spread of the virus,” Corcoran wrote in the memo, which you can download here. "Such policies may also impede instruction in certain cases, especially for students with disabilities and English language learners who benefit from seeing a teacher's face and mouth."

Wendy Doromal, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Associations, a teachers' union, said it’s "irresponsible and premature" to lift mask mandates in schools.

“We believe health and safety and human life come before economic and political agendas," Doromal said.

It’s not yet clear which school boards will make masks optional in response. But Orange County Public Schools said it will consider it.

"We have received the face-mask policy information and recommendation from Commissioner Corcoran," Orange County Public Schools wrote in a statement to WMFE. "Our school board and administration will use the recommendation along with the guidance of local expertise to evaluate the face-mask policy as the new school year approaches.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says physical distancing and universal masking are the keys to safe, in-person schooling.

In Florida, nearly 250,000 have tested positive for COVID-19 and eleven have died. And another 167 children in Florida have gotten what’s called multi-system inflammatory condition, or MIS-C, a serious condition associated with COVID-19 that can be deadly.