Brevard County schools to make masks voluntary next school year

During a meeting on Friday, Brevard County board members voted in favor of making masks voluntary after the end of this school year. 

"This will include any school activities after June 3, 2021," officials announced. 

Board members will continue to follow the current recommendations of both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep masking policies in place for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, which ends on June 3.

"There is no scenario where everyone leaves this meeting today [Friday] feeling good about what this decision is, right?" asked school board member Misty Haggard-Belford.

During the meeting, there were impassioned pleas from parents both for and against the masks.  

"Your policies should not involve my child's face. Your policy should not make decisions for my child that are medical decisions. You don't need to wait for another entity to make this decision," one parent said.

"As educators, I urge you to consider the lessons our children are walking away with. Masks may be an inconvenience, but they protect the people around you, and which is more important? Which do we want to teach our children is more important?" said another.

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After the meeting, school board members sounded off on the vote. 

"I understand both sides of this issue. Ultimately what it comes down to for me is that if we had vaccines available as a choice for parents to make for all children of all ages, I'd be more comfortable removing the mask mandate," said Jennifer Jenkins, the lone member voting to keep mask mandate.

"In a perfect world, this is what the masks can do," said member Matt Susin, who voted to end the mandate. "Right now, what reality is, between sports and everything else, kids are already together, they're not wearing masks and it's time with the vaccinations to move forward.

Graduation ceremonies for the end of this school year will follow current masking policies, as they are part of the current school year. 

Safety protocols, including enhanced cleaning measures and other risk mitigation strategies, will continue in the county, according to school officials.