Masks now optional at Manatee County school facilities, graduations

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The School Board of Manatee County voted Friday morning to remove its face mask requirement for all employees, students, and visitors in district facilities, at school district events, and in school district facilities.

The change in district policy goes into effect immediately.

Masks will now be optional for students and attendees at each of the six graduation ceremonies taking place next week.

Additionally, masks will be optional for students and employees when summer school begins across the county in June.

“It is my hope that the School Board’s decision today is an important milestone in our return to normalcy for our students and employees,” said Superintendent Cynthia Saunders in a statement. “When the mask mandate was initiated in August, I firmly believe it was the right thing to do and I think the mandate helped us complete this school year without missing a single day of school. To me, the decision today represents the closing of one chapter, and the beginning of a new one.”

Parents have mixed reaction to the change in policy.

“It is just nice that things are changing and hopefully we’ll get back to normal,” said Lori Sanchez.

“The kids need to have the access of the vaccine before taking the masks away,” said mother Lydia Blejan. “It seems unreasonable that we would send them back unprotected even if they are at lower risk for mortality rates and things like that. They can still transfer it,” she continued.

The repeal is a large step ahead of the fall as the district moves toward a ‘pre-COVID mindset’.

The mask mandate was initially put in place by the school board on Aug. 11.

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