Surgical Masks

The Leon County School District lets parents opt-out of masking–no medical excuse required

Leon County School District has ceased to be a school district. maskStudents in grades Pre-K-8th must meet these requirements. Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna says he’s following through on his promise to parents to revisit the policy when positivity rates fell.

The decision comes after the district was found to be violating the state’s ban on mandatory maskParents were not allowed to opt out of the policy. Parents had to provide a medical excuse. Hanna believes that the district is likely still in violation state law despite the changes. maskRules because it is still required faceChildren who have been exposed to COVID are covered and not quarantined.

“We think we took a big step a couple of weeks ago when we eliminated the quarantine and keeping our kids in school. But our principles and I strongly believe that if you are exposed to this virus, that we do require masks for the duration of what otherwise would have been the quarantine period, which is in violation of the emergency rule,” Hanna said.

The state recently relaxed rules on student quarantines—requiring them only for children who’ve tested positive for the virus and have symptoms. The state requires students to obtain a negative PCR or rapid test before they can return to school. Leon goes a step further and requires a negative PCR test or doctor’s note. The district is not accepting rapid tests.

The decision to lift the face mask policies did not require a board vote, as the board has given Hanna the ability to make health and safety decisions. Still, board members did vote on the policy, with only Roseanne Wood opposing lifting the mask mandate. Board members have grown weary of the mask battle, which has pitted parents against parents, and parents against board members, and the district against the state.

“I feel like it’s becoming a power struggle,” said Alva Striplin.

“Parents will still make those same choices, equipped with the opportunity to take advantage of that, and those who will not, will not,” said Darryl Jones. “I am ready to move on…I’m ready to talk about how we’re going to respond to these headlines.”

These headlines include an increase in guns found at schools and an increase in disciplinary problems. Leon was removed from a state lawsuit. masks failed. Leon is one of six districts that are suing to invalidate a Department of Health ruling giving parents the sole power to opt-out of masking. The districts say the rule oversteps the department’s authority.

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