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Nassau County School Board votes in favor of opt-out form for student masks

Photo from Nassau County School Board special meeting on Aug. 17, 2021.
Photo from Nassau County School Board special meeting on Aug. 17, 2021.

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – Following calls for masks in schools at a previous school district meeting, the Nassau County School Board on Tuesday held a special meeting to discuss the hot button topic and get feedback from the community.

After more than two hours of public comment from those for and against masks in schools, the Board unanimously voted in favor an opt-out measure. Nassau County public school students who do not wish to wear a mask will be asked to fill out a form, and the student’s guardian will sign and date it.

“In order to keep ALL students safe and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and classrooms, we are temporarily requiring ALL students to wear face masks while indoors. If this requirement is an issue for you and your child because of health concerns or individual freedoms you may complete the signature portion of this form and return it to your child’s school,” reads a form that was presented during Tuesday’s meeting.

(Note: This form was presented in the School Board’s meeting agenda and may differ from the final form approved by the Board)

The process for parents to receive an official form from the district, fill it out and return it was not immediately clear. As noted above, the measure was said to be temporary, though an end date wasn’t given.

It’s similar to the policy that was adopted earlier this month by Duval County Public Schools. It too gives students the choice of opting out of wearing a mask.

The decision came hours after the State Board of Education voted to direct state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to investigate the actions of Alachua County and Broward County school officials.

The Alachua County School Board put in place a two-week mask mandate for students on Aug. 10 with the chance for students to opt out with a doctor’s note.

According to Corcoran, because the district requires parents to provide documentation from a medical doctor, osteopathic physician, or a licensed nurse practitioner in order to opt out of the district’s mask mandate, the district is not in compliance with the Florida Department of Health’s emergency rule, which was issued after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order putting a ban on mask mandates.