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Sarasota County School District Board passes mask mandate for the district

Emergency meeting underway at Sarasota County Schools over masks.
Emergency meeting underway at Sarasota County Schools over masks.(WWSB)
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 8:22 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Sarasota County School District Board has passed a mask mandate for the district.

Board members voted for the third option, which would be a mask mandate for all for 90 days with a medical exemption only. This policy is for all students, staff, vendors, and parents.

If the positivity rate in Sarasota County goes below 8%, the mandate will be lifted. If the positivity rate in the county goes back up over 10%, then the mandate will be re-enacted.

The bill passed 3 to 2, with Bridget Ziegler and Karen Rose voting no. Shirley Brown, Jane Goodwin, and Tom Edwards all voted yes.

The board meeting lasted almost five hours, as board members sat and listened to public comment. Initially, the board wasn’t going to allow a public comment section, but after an outburst from the audience, and a short recess, they decided to go on with the public comments.

They heard from several parents, some for the mandate and some against. Originally, there were three options that the board took into consideration.

The first option would be a mask mandate for students, where parents would have the option to opt out. The second option was going to be for employees only. And then the third option, which was originally a mask mandate for 90 days with no opt-out option, unless for a medical reason.

After hours of discussion and several amendments, the third option became what it is now, which is still the 90-day mask mandate but allows school districts to stop it prior to the 90 days if the county is meeting certain requirements.

Board members did not announce when this mask mandate would go into effect. But it is expected to go into effect immediately.

We will have more information as it becomes available.

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