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To Mask or Not to Mask? That's the Question OCPS Board Members Are Asking Ahead of August 10th

Photo: Anton
Photo: Anton

Orange County School Board members have requested daily COVID numbers from three local hospitals as they consider bringing back a mask mandate for the fall. 

Chair Teresa Jacobs says she’s gotten data from Nemours Children’s and Arnold Palmer Children’s hospitals and it shows a spike in kids visiting the ER in July. 

Jacobs says she’s concerned that without masks, there won’t be enough layers of protection in place to keep students safe from the highly infectious Delta variant.

"If this were my decision alone, I know it is not, I’m just one voice and this board has to work together to make decisions, if it were my decision I would have a mask policy, mandate in place for the beginning of the school year, monitor it and look for the opportunity to lift it depending on what happens.”

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Member Angie Gallo, also requested daily COVID numbers including cases and hospitalizations in kids between the ages of 0 and 17.

Gallo says she's for a face mask mandate if the data supports it. Otherwise, she’s still in favor of giving families some choice in the matter.

“My fear is that we are masking and we are putting the burden of this virus on our children, because the unvaccinated refuse to get vaccinated. And I don't think that that's a burden that should be on our children.”

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Chair Jacobs says if four out of the eight board members want it, she’s ready to revisit the conversation about required face masks.

Ultimately, it would be Superintendent Barbara Jenkins’ call to reinstate a face mask mandate. Jenkins has already said she would consult the board.


Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.