LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — The debate about whether students should wear masks in school continued in Lake County as people for and against masks in public schools showed up at the Lake County School Board meeting on Monday night.

What You Need To Know

  • Proponents, opponents of mask mandates met outside Lake School Board meeting

  • One mother whose daughter was quarantined wants masks to be required

  •  Last week, 2,676 district students were exposed to COVID and required to quarantine.

  • Another parent said there is no evidence masks would help the situation

Before that meeting, the dash to get ready for school returned for the Morales family in Clermont on Monday, but last week, Leilani had to stay home and quarantine.

“It made me sad because I wouldn’t be able to see my friends,” third-grader Leilani Morales said.

The Pine Ridge Elementary student was exposed to COVID-19. She said she wears a mask at school, but others do not.

“A lot of us are, like, not wearing masks,” Morales said. “I have a feeling that’s how one of the students in my class got COVID, by not wearing a mask”

Currently, Lake County Schools policy is that masks are strongly encouraged, but optional. Last week alone, 2,676 students in the district were exposed to COVID and required to quarantine. As of Monday, all sixth-graders at Round Lake Charter School in Mount Dora were learning from home because almost all of them have been quarantined because of COVID-19.

“Well, it’s been really unsettling because we were so excited to get the school year going,” said Tammy Morales, Leilani’s mother.

Tammy Morales says receiving what she called a dreaded phone call from school about her child caused a great deal of worry.

“We had to make sure she didn’t get any symptoms, especially since she’s younger than 12, (and) she can’t get the vaccine,” Tammy Morales said. “So that makes you nervous as a parent.”

Morales said she and her family wear masks to protect themselves and the people around them.

“Why on earth are we letting kids go to school without masks?” Tammy Morales asked. “We all know that masks do provide a layer of protection.”

She said she hopes Lake County changes course, like some other districts have.

“I really would like the school board members to implement the mask mandate again and actually in fact, all of the COVID rules that they had last year, for the kids to keep them safe,” Tammy Morales said.

And Leilani said she couldn’t wait to get back to class, and she wants all her friends to stay healthy.

“Well, I’m hoping no one gets COVID,” she said.

Morales and many others planned to speak to the school board during the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting.

The group in support of keeping the mandate as is showed up maskless in front of the school board’s offices before the meeting. They demanded that parents have the right to choose whether their children wear a mask, or not.

“The evidence is not conclusive that masks help,” Tom Vail of Lake County Republicans said. “There’s very strong evidence that children are not spreaders, that children don’t seem to get this disease badly, at least until now.”