Can districts discipline students for not social distancing outside school? State law says no

VIDEO: Can districts discipline students for not social distancing outside school? State law says no

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — “Can Orange County Public Schools discipline students for not social distancing outside of class?”

That’s the question Eyewitness News posed to the district after learning a birthday party attended by several students was part of the reason Olympia High School had to close for two weeks. Some officials referred to it as a “super-spreading” event.

The answer, right now, is no.

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District officials said they would have a very difficult time disciplining a student for doing something in their free time like going to a party.

Pam Gould, OCPS School Board vice chairwoman, said it could make people report possible exposure less. And, Florida statue prevents that type of overreach.

“I think if we saw that people were having blatant disregard that would come to the table but at this point I think we need to do it through education and cooperation,” she said.

Gould encourages people to not have big parties and wear face masks if you’re around a lot of people, and be honest if contacted by a contact tracer. That way, board members have accurate information when deciding when to close a school.

“The more we all cooperate and we are upfront and honest about it, the quicker we can get back into a normal situation,” Gould said.

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