OCALA, Fla. — Starting Thursday, Marion County Public Schools will be the latest district to require face coverings on campus.
What You Need To Know
- Marion School Board approved the mandate 3-1 in an emergency meeting
- Opt-outs are allowed with parental permission for students, documented medical condition for staff
- Orange, Seminole also have mask mandates
- Related: Back to school in Florida: A question of masks, quarantines and more
The school board agreed in an emergency meeting Monday to require the face coverings for those who cannot safely social distance, or who have opted out. The mandate applies to students, staff and visitors, all on-campus activities and on buses.
It doesn't apply to outdoor areas such as physical education or recess, and there will be mask break areas for students.
Students will be able to opt out with a parents' permission. Employees must have a documented medical condition to opt out.
The school district says the policy will remain in place until the positivity rate, and the rate of new cases per 100,000 people, declines to an acceptable level for the next two weeks.
Marion County is the third school district in Central Florida to require masks with an opt-out. Orange and Seminole counties also have mandates with opt-outs. Other counties only encourage masks.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order meant to stop mask mandates in schools, the Florida Board of Education said mandates that have opt-outs follows the "spirit" of DeSantis' order.
Marion County Public Schools reported 139 COVID-19 cases — 93 students and 46 employees — from Aug. 10 to 13 on its COVID-19 dashboard. It also reports 531 students and staff in quarantine because of the virus.