Trista Smith '24
On August 20th Sarasota County School board passed a 90-day mandatory mask policy for all students. All students must wear masks while at school unless the student has an approved medical exemption. The mandate will be dropped if the positivity rate in the country is below 8% for 3 straight days. The mandate returns if the positivity rate then rises above 10%.
Some parents were not happy with this decision. Many parents spoke against the mandate saying that a child's healthcare should be left up to the parent rather than dictated by the school. Other parents were for the mask mandate, citing public health concerns.
Before school started, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis declared that wearing masks must be the parent’s choice. In his order, he said that if schools mandate masks, there must be a way for parents to opt-out.
The Sarasota School Board voted 3-2 on the mask issue. Voting against were Bridget Ziegler and Karen Rose. Voting to create the mandate were Shirley Brown, Tom Edwards, and Jane Goodwin.
Five other school districts have defied DeSantis and created mask mandates including Alachua, Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and the most recent Hillsborough County.
The school board meeting lasted close to 5 hours and included outside comments in addition to parent opinions. The School Board considered three options, the winning 90-day mask mandate with no opt-out except for medical exemptions, a mask mandate for students with opt-out at the request of the parent, and a mask mandate only for employees.