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OCPS: No Decision On Face Masks

Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE
Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Orange County Public Schools says it hasn’t made a decision yet whether face masks will be mandatory in schools next year. 

Responding to new CDC guidelines that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks and no longer have to socially distance, both indoors and outdoors, OCPS said it was reviewing the guidance and that face masks are still required on school property.

Masks were among the issues discussed at a Q-and-A session of the school board’s medical advisory committee Thursday morning. 

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said the board will make a decision over the summer. 

“The elephant in the room is whether or not the board has made any determination about facemasks for next year. I can tell you the board has made no determination or change in policy at this point. Certainly they will rely on the tremendous expertise of this panel of their advisory committee,” said Jenkins.

The Seminole County School Board has voted to not require masks, and the Volusia County School Board is also moving towards making masks optional. 

The medical advisory committee took questions ranging from the safety of mask wearing to side effects from vaccines. 

Dr. Michael Muszynski, professor emeritus of clinical sciences at FSU, advised parents that the benefits of the vaccine outweighs the risk. 

“You should really be more worried about the long term side effects of getting COVID itself which are spectacularly higher than any chance you’ll have anything bad happen to you beyond 2 days from the vaccines," said Muszynski.

The CDC has cleared the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds.