SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — Masks will be required for students, teachers and staff at Sarasota County schools through the end of the school year.
The Sarasota County School Board voted 3-2 to extend the mask policy on Monday, after a long meeting that included concerns from many parents and teachers, and comments from experts at the local department of health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
The board members who voted to extend the mask policy said those experts helped convince them.
"When I look at the emails I received and the calls, talking to the parents and the teachers, they want security. And the way to do that is to continue to mask policy," Vice Chair Shirley Brown said during the meeting. "The number one way to help prevent spread is masks — it might be even more effective than a vaccine. Experts are all telling us to do this."
"I believe Dr. Fauci. I believe in our local health department and Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Masks save lives more than anything. Until we have a vaccine and our rates go down, I think we'll be wearing masks," board member Jane Goodwin added. "I think this will make our teachers and parents feel more comfortable and confident."
School board members Bridget Ziegler and Eric Robinson opposed the extension because they believe the policy needs to be more flexible.
"There's a lot of fear, a lot of unknown. But the longer we have to gather more information and make informed decisions on data, the better off we can educate and make decisions accordingly," Ziegler said.
According to the mask policy, "this Policy becomes effective upon its adoption and will sunset as of June 30, 2021 unless extended or amended prior to that date."
To read the full policy, click here.