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Manatee Schools welcome more than 50,000 students back to class as masks remain optional

Manatee schools
Posted at 6:42 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 18:42:46-04

BRADENTON, Fla. — In Manatee County, school staff says spirits are high and enrollment is up as students return back to a — relatively — normal school year.

School leaders say things went smoothly as more than 50,000 students enrolled in 64 different schools across the county showed up for the first day of school.

"Joy and excitement, it's what I've seen all day," said Cynthia Saunders, Manatee County Schools superintendent.

Masks are optional for students and staff in Manatee County but school leaders say on Tuesday more than half of the students showed up with masks on.

"One elementary school I went to today, almost had 100 percent. I think I only saw about five kids who didn’t have masks so what it tells me is that parents are taking ownership and if they want their child to wear a mask, they’re coming to school with a mask," said Saunders.

The district is encouraging anyone who feels sick this year, to stay home.

Manatee County is one of the few school districts that is still allowing visitors and volunteers into classrooms but they are requiring them to wear masks.