Masks mandatory for adults in Orange County Public Schools in January, superintendent says

Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said on Monday that all adults inside schools will be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, through the month of January.

Jenkins said in a tweet, "As a result of the significant increase in positivity rate, and in an effort to protect our workforce, I have determined that all adults including employees, visitors, and vendors, will be required to wear a face mask in OCPS buildings and vehicles through the month of January."

The tweet also said while masks will not be required for students, they are "strongly encouraged."

School officials also took to Twitter to say that due to the increase in cases, those parents choosing to keep their children at home will be allowed to do so.

In a tweet, Orange County Public Schools said in part, "If you choose to keep your child home, it will be excused if your child keeps up with their assignments. Reach out to the teacher for schoolwork."

No mask mandate had been reinstated for students in any of Central Florida's school districts as of late Monday afternoon.

The Osceola County Public School District resumed classes on Monday. More than 12,000 students, or nearly 25% of the student population, were out "sick," according to the district. On a normal day, the district records about 5,000 absences, school officials told FOX 35 News.

At Celebration K-8, the majority of the students we saw were wearing masks because of the spike in COVID-19 cases, even though it's optional.

A spokesman for Brevard Public Schools tells FOX 35 News said school officials have been in constant communication with local health officials during the winter break and facemasks are strongly encouraged for adults and students while on school property.

" We realize this is a choice and not a requirement, but masks remain a valuable tool to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Russell Bruhn. "Early research shows a N-95 and KN-95 are the best masks to stop spread of the Omicron variant."

Meanwhile, students in Volusia County go back to class on Tuesday and masks are optional.

Lake County is warning students that, "if you show any symptoms of illness, please stay home." and "rapid COVID-19 test kits are available at each school, while supplies last, for any student or employee showing symptoms."

Students in Orange, Volusia, Marion, and Lake counties return to class on Tuesday. Flagler and Seminole counties resume classes on Wednesday, while Brevard County reopens on Thursday.

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