Questions remain regarding Orange County’s mask policy as thousands head to classroom on Friday

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Thousands of Orange County students head back to the classroom on Friday, but the school board’s Medical Advisory Committee still has questions about the district’s mask policy.

Members planned to talk about the policy for just part of the meeting tonight, but instead they talked about the mask for all two hours.

Click here to read the mask policy

General Counsel for the district will now draft proposed changes to the policy so members can review them on Friday. The school board would have to vote on any changes if they want them.

A majority of the members agreed special-needs children should be considered for an exemption to the policy. However, they disagreed on other circumstances such as asthma.

Right now, everyone must wear a mask while on Orange County school property unless a person has a doctor’s note explaining why they can’t wear one.

Dr. Mercedes Rodriguez, a member of the Medical Advisory Committee, vets any doctor’s note.

“I think I reviewed six, and I declined five immediately because there was no information,” she said. “And I’m thinking that the parents are just telling the pediatrician perhaps, ‘Please get me a waiver for no masks,’ so I am taking this seriously.”

Some members said they believe the policy should more clearly define what circumstances would qualify for an exemption, such as asthma.

A few members agreed that face coverings should be worn when students are outdoors during unstructured recess, but there also wasn’t a consensus when it came to other extracurricular activities.

Read: 18 people asked to self-quarantine after someone with COVID-19 shows up to Seminole County school

Last week, a committee member mentioned a tool developed by researchers at the University of Texas that calculates infection rates in a county, and then translates that into how many students or teachers could arrive at school with COVID-19.

Because of a high rate of community spread, Osceola students and staff were most at risk, with an estimated 20 people showing up in a school of 1,000.

Projections have since gone down in each county except Sumter County, where the rate of spread in that county is now higher than it was three weeks ago, and comes in second only to Marion which is on top with a projected 11 people in a school of 1,000.

Read: Titusville charter school ordered to close days before classes set to resume

Tied at the bottom with the lowest risk is Brevard, Flagler and Seminole counties with just four students.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.