Published On: Sat, May 15th, 2021

Palm Beach County school system ends mask mandate

Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy announced that face masks will be optional for Palm Beach County students next school year.

The decision was made in response to the downward trend in COVID positivity rates and the increased vaccination rates. The county also made the choice to make face masks optional after Gov. Ron DeSantis recommended to end mask mandates in schools.

“It is important to note that if health conditions deteriorate, I reserve the authority to change course,” said Superintendent Fennoy in a letter. “I cannot overstate that the health and safety of our students and staff is the School Board’s top priority.”

While face masks will be optional for the 2021-2022 school year, the mandate will remain in place for the rest of the current school year, which ends June 18. 

Currently, the school district requires students to wear face coverings inside district buildings and school buses. Students are not required to wear face masks during outdoor physical education classes if maintaining a distance of six feet.

Parents in Palm Beach County have started the petition “Unmask Palm Beach County Kids” and has collected 7,000 signatures from parents urging the district to end its mask mandate.

“We are going to put pressure forward and we are not going to stop until these school board members and the superintendent understand who they work for,” said parent Jessi Melton to WPTV.

While some parents are eager to see the mandate end, 68.9% of educators in a survey indicated that the mandate should remain in effect at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. A letter sent by the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society urged the superintendent to keep the mask mandate.

“Attending indoor public events not only increases the risk for COVID-19 transmission between students and staff but increases the risk of spreading the infection to high-risk family members and friends,” the letter stated.

While the Palm Beach County school system will cease the mask mandate, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing facial coverings indoors for those who are not fully vaccinated to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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