No mask mandate for Osceola County schools

Parents and teachers in Osceola County got their chance to voice their opinions to the school board Monday night after a judge ruled last week that school districts can impose mandatory mask mandates.

Osceola County was the latest school district in Central Florida to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the mask policy tonight.

The mask policy in Osceola County schools will remain as is for now. The district’s policy currently requires masks for students from kindergarten through 8th grade and includes an opt-out option.

Some parents wondered if the district would change it to a mandatory mask policy after the judge’s ruling last week.

A small group of people, including some children, rallied outside the school district meeting before the meeting and held signs. Inside the meeting, people argued at times, and board members had to give some people warnings for speaking and yelling out of turn.

Close to 100 parents and teachers voiced their opinions during the public comment period. Some of them want a mandatory mask policy in the district, while others want no masks or an opt-out option.

"I would rather you make a decision that will keep all of these students safe, rather than base your decision on your opinion," parent Tamika Lyles said.

"From day one basically, I have just always thought that this is something that a parent should decide, what is best for their own child. At the end of the day, that’s who knows the child far better than any school board member," said parent Rachel Pinkert.

Because Governor Ron DeSantis plans to appeal a judge’s ruling from last week, which said the governor overstepped his authority by banning school mask mandates, one board member argued the emergency meeting was premature.

"It’s a shame that we come here to pull a political stunt with no purpose, no rhyme, other than coming here to discuss something that in two days we [may] have to call another emergency meeting," Jon Arguello, Osceola County School Board Member said.

The current mask policy is in place until October 4. Board members said they will reassess the mandate after that date, or after the governor’s appeal.

This story is developing, check for updates.