Osceola County schools keep masks optional for students despite rising cases

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Things got heated during Monday night’s school board meeting in Osceola County as the district debated making face masks mandatory.

The school district ultimately decided to keep face masks optional.

Superintendent Debra Pace said she is happy with the board’s decision.

READ: Osceola County Schools rejects mask mandate as confusion mounts

“We want to do what’s right for our students and staff,” Pace said.

Pace admitted that that’s easier said than done under the current circumstances.

Many parents expressed their opinions during the school board meeting.

“I’m trying to protect my 18-month-old too,” one parent said. While another parent opposed the mask mandate saying, “A school board does not need to overreach.”

Last night, after hearing impassioned comments from concerned parents, the school board made the controversial decision to keep mask optional for students, despite the rising number of coronavirus cases in the district.

READ: Brevard School Board votes to reinstate mask mandate

“They want to follow the law since the order has not been overruled just yet,” Pace said.

Pace explained that since Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order is still in place, he plans to appeal the ruling that his order is unconstitutional, and said that keeping the status quo is the right choice.

Channel 9 spoke with students outside Gateway High School about the issue.

“I think we should wear mask because it is ridiculous not to have one,” Soleil DeJesus said.

READ: 95% of Florida’s ICU beds in use, even as COVID-19 cases start to decline

“Wearing a mask is good to prevent it, but if you don’t want to you shouldn’t have to,” Michael Leandre said.

Pace told Channel 9 that more than 900 students have tested positive for COVID-19 less than a month into the new school year.

School officials are struggling to reach out individually to students who need to quarantine.

Pace also said that the district has created a COVID-19 response center to deal with contact tracing.

The district plans to revisit the mask mandate in the future.

Q Mccray

Q McCray, WFTV.com

Q McCray is an award-winning general assignment reporter.