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Manatee County School Board votes to keep masks in schools

Charleston County schools start week two with thousands of students returning for in-person...
Charleston County schools start week two with thousands of students returning for in-person classes.(Live 5)
Updated: Nov. 10, 2020 at 7:58 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Manatee County School Board unanimously voted to keep mask in schools on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Approval of Amendment to Policy 8450-Control of Casual-Contact Communicable Diseases and Activating Section B was an agenda item for Tuesday’s school board meeting. The agenda item addressed changes to the amendment, mask wearing in schools, and possible masks breaks for students. Following the vote, students and faculty will continue to wear masks in school.

Prior to the meeting, the Manatee County School Board sent a survey to employees and parents of students in the district. Superintendent Cynthia Saunders says of the 9,000 parents who responded to the survey, most of them wanted the mask mandate to remain in schools.

“I was surprised that the parents really were in favor as well as employees,” said Saunders.

Even with those results, some parents don’t want their children to wear masks. Those parents addressed school board members during the public hearing portion of Tuesday’s meeting.

“Obviously the survey was tainted and that’s how I see that,” a parent said during public hearing and comments. “If the parents are so concerned that there should be a mask mandate, where are they now?”

“This new normal we have been experiencing since march has left with heightened anxiety and depression,” another parent said. “I would like for you to take a moment and think about the affect this has had on our students. They are afraid to sneeze.”

Once public comments concluded, school board members spoke amongst themselves about the Approval of Amendment to Policy 8450.

“Masks make a difference and its been proven,” said Scott Hopes who is a professor at LECOM and USF and has served as a board member over 3 years. “What we are doing is working. We have one of the lowest rates in our schools across the State of Florida.”

Though board members have decided to keep masks in schools, the board members have decided to re-visit the mask discussion every 90 days.

Board members vote not to allow mask breaks inside schools and/or on the school bus.

Cynthia Saunders shared statistics at Tuesday’s meeting that revealed most students in the district attend brick and mortar.

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