HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County Schools decided to soften its mask rules for students. Parents can now fill out a form if they don’t want their kids wearing a mask in school.
The policy change takes effect Thursday.

The decision was made after the state threatened to cut funding for the school district if it did not relax its mask rules. The school district says it saw the number of COVID-19 cases drop. When the school year began, the positivity rate was greater than 20%. It’s now at 8%.

The school district had been under pressure with the Florida Board of Education threatening to funding “in an amount equal to any federal grant funds.” Broward County Schools lost $420,000 after their board voted to keep its mask mandate in place, Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis pointed out.

“I can tell you where we are in a financial situation. We need every dollar and cent that we can,” the superintendent said.

Some parents are happy about the board’s decision.

“It should have never went in place, they’re overreaching they’re not following the law we have a bill of rights parents are supposed to make their own choice,” said Sandy Meyer, a parent who is against the mask mandate.

But the policy change doesn’t sit well with other parents who hoped it would have stayed past the Oct. 15 deadline.

“That’s when we’re expected to have the vaccine rollout for kids 5 and up, and that would provide an extra layer of protection,” said DaMaris Allen, a parent in favor of the mandate.

The Florida Board of Education will meet on Thursday, and the school district could still potentially be punished.