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Florida education official tells school districts to make masks optional next year

Florida education official tells school districts to make masks optional next year
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Florida's education commissioner is telling school districts to make masks optional for the next school year.

“The data shows us that districts’ face covering policies do not impact the spread of the virus,” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said in a letter to school districts around the state, the Herald-Tribune reported.

Schools have been fully open since last fall in Florida due to a directive by Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisOvernight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections DeSantis to hold Newsmax town hall DeSantis signs bill banning gun regulations by local governments MORE (R). 

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Corcoran said in his letter mask mandates in schools has been negatively affecting children with disabilities and children who are learning English.

The letter concluded by asking “districts which currently are implementing a mandated face covering policy (to) revise their policy to be voluntary for the 2021-22 school year.”

Florida has been at the forefront of relaxing coronavirus restrictions. It was one of the first states to not require masks in public places and refused to shut down restaurants during surges of coronavirus cases last year.

Although DeSantis was criticized for these moves, many states did follow in at least opening up their schools to in-person learning for the 2020 to 2021 school year. 

Although Corcoran is ordering schools to make masks optional, schools throughout Florida were already planning on doing it without the commissioner’s order, the local outlet reported.

“We were considering the same thing. It may not be necessary next year, but we would make it optional. It’s on the agenda to discuss, even without his mandate,” Sarasota County School Board Chairwoman Shirley Brown said. “We have seen it isn’t spreading as much inside the school as it is outside.”

“This is useless virtue signaling anyway since most districts will no longer need mandatory mask policies in August if current trends continue,” Manatee County School Board Chairman Charlie Kennedy said. “I’m hoping to be done with ours after the last day of school in May.”