ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – On Tuesday night, Alachua County School Board voted in favor of requiring students to wear masks for the first two weeks of school.
The decision comes despite Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring mask mandates at schools in Florida.
Alachua County Public Schools tweeted the decision, saying it’s due to a “dramatic increase in local COVID cases and hospitalizations, including among children.”
The Board is expected to re-evaluate the decision during its meeting on Aug. 17.
Superintendent Carlee Simon said that two of her employees died from COVID-19 over the weekend and more than 80 employees are in quarantine.
“I’m losing parts of our workforce. I’ve had schools of custodians where the entire team is going and we’re running into a situation where we know we need adults to run the schools and if my adults are sick or are needing to quarantine then I don’t have adults present to provide the education,” Simon told CNN.
Simon added the governor agreed the district can start the school year with masks and without fear of punishment, but asked to confirm that, the governor’s press secretary released a statement saying they’re working on emergency rules which will not “prohibit masks in schools but will require parents to have the right to opt their children out.”
On Friday on The Morning Show, Simon said that despite any possible repercussions, if school workers are not protected, there will be no school.
“We have responsibilities to provide education for our students, and staff that are sick and possibly sharing COVID, when we have staff that are unable to work because they are being quarantined, we can’t do that,” Simon told Bruce Hamilton. “We want our schools open and the way to do this is to make sure our staff is safe and our students are safe.”
On the heels of Alachua County’s mask mandate, a group of St Johns County parents have started a petition to ask for the same.
More than 2,000 people have signed.