Board members to decide on extension of Orange County schools mask mandate

Orange County School Board members are preparing to decide whether to extend the district's face mask mandate on Thursday. 

Masks have been required since the beginning of the school year with no parental opt-out option. The current mask mandate is set to expire this Saturday, but the board could vote to extend it by another six weeks.

Board members say that by extending the mask mandate it will provide more protection to younger students who are not yet able to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA’s approval for emergency use authorization in children ages 5 to 11 could be finalized in the next few weeks.

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Other board members say they are concerned about the consequences they may face if they extend the mask mandate now that COVID cases have dropped by half since the mandate was put into place at the beginning of the school year. 

Chairwoman Teresa Jacobs says Governor Ron DeSantis could seek the power at the next legislative special session to remove school board members who defy his ban on mask mandates. 

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said she would make her decision about whether to extend the face mask policy after listening to county health leaders at Wednesday's meeting. 

Watch FOX 35 News for the latest updates.