School districts may have to wait until November for judge’s ruling on masks and quarantines

ORLANDO, Fla. — After two days of testimony, Orange County Public Schools may have to wait until November to learn the outcome of its legal battle with Florida over virus protocols.

The challenge, filed by six school boards, is against Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order over parental opt-outs for student mask-wearing in K-12 schools.

WATCH: Florida judge hears debate on school boards’ challenge on masking at schools

Along with the discussion over masks in schools is the debate over student quarantines.

It all boils down to the question of who decides when a potentially infected child, who is not showing symptoms, can return to school.

Both sides said they are doing what’s best for students.

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“This is a virus that in an indoor space is going to accumulate in that space over time,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty.

Marty drew on decades of experience to give her opinion, presented in support of Orange County and five other school boards, as they seek to undo the state’s executive order over parental mask opt-outs.

“These data showing this incredible high viral loads in children, for example, who have no symptoms puts other children at risk,” Marty said.

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DeSantis’ Sept. 22 rule said parents should have sole discretion to opt out of mask requirements. The order also gave parents control over when to send a student without symptoms who was exposed to the virus back to school.

The senior chancellor with the state board of education explained how the state believes the “over quarantining” of students has damaged their academic performance.

“We have anecdotal records as well as standardized assessments that show us when students are in school, in front of a teacher that’s skilled and trained, they learn better,” said Jacob Oliva with the Florida Department of Education.

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School board attorneys argue they shouldn’t be subject to the executive order because it came without a declared state of emergency, while the state has maintained that action is well within its power.

Both sides now have a week to submit proposals for how they would like to see Judge Brian Newman rule.

Newman could take until Nov. 5 to issue his order.

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