Orange County parents can now opt students out of wearing masks at school

FILE - A student wears a mask while listening to her teacher. (INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

The Orange County School District is easing up on its face mask mandate starting Monday.

While masks at Orange County schools have been required since the beginning of the year with no parental opt-out option, students can now stop wearing masks if their parents provide a note opting them out. The note must be signed and delivered to the school.

The district said that is because the number of coronavirus cases in the county have dropped.

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In fact, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced last week that a state of emergency in the county had ended due to a drop in new coronavirus cases and a lower 14-day positivity rate. 

"After speaking with local medical advisers and board members, noting the significant reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases in Orange County, and hearing Mayor Demings announce the end of his local emergency order, I have determined not to extend our face mask mandate for students," said Superintendent Barbara Jenkins.

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Some school board members had argued that extending the mask mandate would have provided more protection to younger students who are not yet able to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Other board members expressed concerns about the consequences they would have faced had they extended the mandate now that COVID cases have dropped by half since the mandate was put into place at the beginning of the school year.

Employees, visitors, and volunteers will still be required to wear a face mask until further notice. Jenkins said they project making face masks optional for employees and other adults after Dec. 3 or sooner based on the data.

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