School districts agree to comply with state’s mask and quarantine rules

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 4:42 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - A second school district in as many days has backed down and come into compliance with the state’s masking and quarantine policies.

Leon County Schools now says starting next week, it will allow parents the ultimate choice on masking.

In a late August interview, Florida’s Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran made a prediction.

“We’ll get to the middle of September, everyone will calm down cause our cases are going to decline just like they did last year,” said Corcoran.

And that prediction panned out with case rates steadily dropping over the past two months.

“We see positivity rates hovering around 3% in Leon County,” said Leon School Superintendent Rocky Hanna.

Hanna said the district’s decision to come into compliance with state masking and quarantine rules was based not on threats from the state, but on local case numbers.

“But if things change again, if we see that another variant comes through or let’s say after the holidays those numbers go up, we’re going right back to these things,” said Hanna.

The announcement from Leon came a day after Brevard County Schools also came into compliance with state masking and quarantine rules.

But Hanna said he firmly believes masking was the right call at the start of the school year.

“We had the death of a child; we had the death of a coach; we had positivity numbers off the chain. To not do something would have been reckless and irresponsible,” said Hanna.

Districts still fighting the state on masks include Alachua, Broward, Dade, Duval, Orange and Palm Beach.

House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Randy Fine had this message for the districts still holding out.

“For many of them, this is simply about politics. They’re not willing to say they were wrong, and they’re just gonna stick it out, and we’re going to beat them,” said Representative Fine.

While Leon and Brevard have buckled, they are still part of an administrative challenge to the state’s masking and quarantine policies.

A ruling is expected by November 5th.

Also yet to be settled is a lawsuit brought by parents seeking to overturn the state’s school mask mandate ban.

That case is still working its way through an appellate court.