Masks in Manatee schools: Parents weigh in on new policy ahead of vote

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Parents in Manatee County weighed in on the controversial proposal that would the change school district’s mask policy, Tuesday.

The proposed mask policy would make face coverings an option for students during the 2021-22 school year. The only way a mandate could go into effect in the future, under the proposed policy, is if Gov. DeSantis declares a State of Emergency due to a public health emergency.

In that case, the School Board, with a majority vote, could implement a face-covering/mask requirement for a date certain amount of time or for the length of the public health emergency.

The hot button issue sparked protests among parents and students in the weeks leading up to the school board’s vote.

“I hope that this shows them that there are a lot of people that don’t wanna wear masks,” Palmetto High School student Madisyn Scheid told 8 On Your Side.

According to school district leaders, the current mandatory mask policy runs through the end of the 2020-21 school year. If the updated mask policy is approved, face coverings would be optional for students when they returned for summer school.

“I would love to see it optional, and I would love everybody to respect those who want to wear them, everybody to respect those who doesn’t. I think all viewpoints should be taken into plan,” said Scheid’s mother Jen.

Some parents worry the relaxed rules are coming too soon with children under 12 still ineligible for a vaccine.

“They are not going to be protected until after school starts, so, after that, I don’t really care because they are going to have the vaccine and the vaccine works,” said Laura Hoffman. “We have done a really good job all year and I really think that the masks have been the factor that has kept us from having crazy cases in our schools,” she continued

Manatee County school board members are set to hear all viewpoints from parents during the public hearing portion of their meeting, Tuesday.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m., and the agenda can be found here.

Board members plan to vote on the proposed policy Friday during a special meeting.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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