First day of school kicks off in Osceola County

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — The first day of school kicked off in Osceola County on Thursday.

Unlike Orange and Seminole counties, students are not required to wear masks with an opt out option.

It is possible that we could see a similar mask requirement in Osceola County. The last time the school board met was in early July, before the delta variant took hold.

READ: Here are the COVID-19 protocols for students, staff in Central Florida as new school year begins

School board member Terry Castillo said she doesn’t agree with making masks optional due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

“We continue to monitor the data and adapt as necessary but when you consider a mask optional versus a mask mandatory with an opt-out policy, it still gives parents that choice,” Castillo said.

The school board is set to meet next week to discuss a mask mandate.

READ: Florida doctors, teachers call on Gov. DeSantis to reverse order blocking COVID mandates in schools

As students arrived to school at Gateway High School, most of the students Channel 9 reporter Jeff Levkulich saw were wearing their masks. Many students said they were glad to be back.

“I’m excited,” said Gabriel Melendez. “I haven’t been to school in like a year and a half to two years ‘cause when I was a freshman, it got cut short and I had been home all this time.”

READ: Child Tax Credit: August payment set to go out this week

COVID-19 is not the only concern in Osceola County. The transportation director said they are still short on school bus drivers. He said some managers are handling bus duties until they can fill the jobs.

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich,

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.