Brevard County School Board votes to keep face masks optional

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The Brevard County School Board on Tuesday voted to keep face masks optional for the school year.

The decision came down to a 2-3 vote after the school board meeting lasted several hours and saw public comments from both sides.

Roughly 70,000 Brevard County students returned to the classroom Tuesday, with hundreds of others enrolled in Brevard virtual school.

With the pandemic continuing to drag on, some parents took their concerns directly to the school board.

The Brevard County School Board revisited its mask policy during a school board meeting Tuesday night.

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On Tuesday, a group of parents called for a mask mandate to be put in place. While other parents, as they have for weeks, shut down the idea, saying they are fighting for the freedom to choose.

While board members spoke about several back-to-school subjects, seats were filled for one topic specifically, as 56 people signed up to speak about whether masks in the classrooms should be required or remain optional.

“I think getting vaccinated is really important because we all want to stop COVID,” said Delaura Middle School student Karen Hattie.

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“She’s vaccinated. I think we’re going to be okay. We have her mask just in case something changes during the school year. I think it’s going to be a great school year,” said mother Amanda Hattie.

This year, Brevard Public School have kept a lot of last year’s COVID-19 protocols in place.

“We’ve maintained out heightened cleaning protocols across our campus and in our cafeteria. We’re maintaining a lot of those practices that we saw were beneficial last year,” said Brevard Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Mullins.

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However, this year, masks are optional at Brevard Public Schools.

“We understand what the direction of the state is. We certainly encourage our students and staff to utilize a face mask, particularly in those indoor environments where social distancing cannot be maintained. If the board moves in a different direction, we’ll certainly be ready to support their decision,” said Mullins.

Meanwhile, some students and their families are just looking forward to returning to the classroom.

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“Just a new environment from my old school, something new. I’ve been stuck at home for one year, so it’s different,” said Delaura Middle School student Esha Patel.

The school distrcit’s COVID dashboard is making a comeback this school year as well. Last week before the start of school, 153 cases of COVID were reported district wide among 58 staff members and 95 students.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.