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Sumter schools superintendent: Face masks could become mandatory 'at any time'

Bloomberg via Getty Images
N95 particulate respirator masks (left) block at least 95% of small airborne particulates in the air. However, they are still in short supply and should be reserved for medical workers. Surgical face masks (right) are most effective at protecting others from the wearer's droplets.

The Sumter County school district has announced that, as of now, face coverings will be optional when schools open on August 10th but that could change "at any time."

Superintendent Richard Shirley says masks could become mandatory based on the CDC, Health Department, Florida Department of Education or his own decision as COVID-19 cases surge.

Districts throughout Central Florida have made face coverings optional, and the governor opposes mask requirements.

But now the state has an explosion of new cases, and the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are recommending face coverings at school.

The Brevard County School Board will review its Covid mitigation strategies Thursday night.

And the Orange County school district is monitoring pediatric cases in case it needs to revisit its optional mask policy.


Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.