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Orange County Schools still considering how to respond to Florida Department of Education threats over face masks

Photo: Barbara Jenkins
Photo: Barbara Jenkins

The Orange County Public School District has a little more than 24 hours left to lift a face mask mandate for students or risk losing state funding. 


Orange and Brevard counties are two of the districts that the Florida Department of Education has threatened with funding cuts over student face mask mandates. 

In a letter sent to Superintendent Barbara Jenkins and School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs this week, the department says it will dock school board pay on a monthly basis unless the mandate is lifted by Friday. 

Jacobs didn’t mention the mandate at the latest school board meeting on Tuesday, opting instead to thank security officers who kept her board and parents safe at meetings.

“I want to thank our OCPS police. I also want to thank our OPD police that are here. This is the calmest meeting that we’ve had. And for those of you who have taken time to be here tonight. I appreciate you enormously but so does our citizenry.”

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Jacobs says these security officers enforced law and order when meetings turned contentious at times over face masks. 

“The incredible work that you all have done in creating an environment that is more structured has made me feel safer. It’s made us all feel safer and hopefully what it does is also allows the citizens who are calling in by phone now instead of coming in not because they’re afraid of COVID but they’re afraid of an unruly environment. We’re seeing it across the nation. We’re seeing it all around the state. And your presence here tonight is very meaningful to all of us so thank you and God bless.”

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A spokesperson with OCPS says school board staff are currently reviewing the order to determine next steps.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.