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Hillsborough County Schools updates mask mandate, now has parental opt-out

Children wear masks on first day of school at Sessums Elementary School in Riverview, Fla., Aug. 10, 2021
Posted at 6:57 AM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 07:44:56-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY  — The Hillsborough County School Board voted to remove the written medical exemption from its mask mandate. Now, there is a parental opt-out option.

During the school board meeting Tuesday evening, school officials decided to remove the written medical exemption and will now have parental opt-outs. There will be a 24-hour grace period, so students can show up to school on Wednesday without a mask. Starting Thursday, masks will be required unless the student has a parental opt-out.

This decision will keep the district in compliance with the State Board of Education requirement, so the district shouldn’t be fined, nor should funding be pulled by the Department of Education.

The school board also discussed plans to create a long-term strategic plan to address the school district's operation deficit. ABC Action News has been reporting about the school district’s financial challenges for a few months.

Back in April leaders eliminated nearly 1,000 positions to cut costs, and that the district had a fund balance of negative $107 million.

Officials looked to improve their 5-year work plan. Within that plan, leaders say ensuring financial stability is a top priority.