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Sarasota school board votes to enact 90 day mask mandate in emergency meeting

5 Florida districts have already approved mask mandates
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Posted at 7:31 AM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-23 05:00:02-04

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Sarasota County School Board passed a 90-day mandatory mask policy for students.

Parents may not opt-out except for medical reasons.

The mandate will be removed if the positivity rate in the county drops below 8% for three consecutive days and would be reenacted if the positivity rate rose above 10%.

The majority of parents who attend Friday's meeting spoke out against mask mandates.

"You do not get to dictate whether my child can go to school or not with a mask, leave my child's healthcare decisions to me," argued one parent during public comment.

The meeting was interrupted numerous times by people shouting.

Some parents spoke in favor of a mask mandate. One mother said her child was sent home from school after having an exposure to COVID-19 in middle school.

"I mean our son did everything right. He has the vaccine. He has the masks, but he still had to come home," said Monika White.

The board voted 3-2 to pass the policy. Bridget Ziegler and Karen Rose voting "no." Shirley Brown, Tom Edwards, and Jane Goodwin voted "yes."

Before school started, Governor Ron DeSantis made it clear he wants masks to be parents' choice. In his executive order, he said if schools mandate them, but they need to have an opt-out option.

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So far, five other school districts are also enforcing a mask mandate for at least 30 days, despite the governor’s order.

They are Alachua, Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and most recently Hillsborough County.

DeSantis has announced possible financial penalties on at least two of the districts so far and those districts are challenging the sanctions in court.

Manatee and Pinellas county districts also held emergency meetings on August 9 and determined they would not mandate masks.