Orange County Schools mask mandate goes into effect

The mask mandate at Orange County schools will begin on Monday.

Students in Kindergarten through 12th grade will be required to wear masks for the entire school day. The only students who can be exempt from the mandate are those with a medical condition. They must provide a doctor’s note. Students could face anything from a verbal warning to in-school suspension for failing to wear a mask in school.

The mandate will last at least through October.

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Some Orange County parents say they are happy with the school district's changes to the mask policy.

"I feel much better. I think it will help protect more of the kids, students and faculty," said Amanda Wilson. "Once the numbers really started jumping up and she had several people in school who were out for quarantine, or who actually got COVID, we were pretty nervous that it was optional. Once they came out with the mandate, we were happy to have that back in place."

However, others would like the opt-out option back. Previously, the school district would allow parents to opt their children out of the mask mandate with a written note.

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For example, Misty Griffin, with the Orange County chapter of ‘Moms for Liberty,’ argues it should be the parents' choice, not the school districts, stating "It’s just all about being able to choose what’s best for our kids. That’s the most important thing right now and parents are angry and they’re upset because they’re not able to make the best choice for their child."

Some parents are planning a protest outside the Orange County Public Schools administration building in Downtown Orlando from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Monday, protesting the mandate. They call it the "Orange County Black Out" –  a move banning the mask mandate in schools.

Congressional candidate Willie Montague spoke about the protest, telling FOX 35 that "we’re asking parents to take that stand and not send them to school to show the school board that it is the choice of the parents."

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However, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that only a small percentage of students have protested the mask mandate in schools, explaining that "it’s concerning but I know the majority of parents are not going to send their child to school without masks." 

Mayor Demings' wife, Congresswoman Val Demings, said that local leaders should be taking care of their communities rather than state leaders. She said, "let’s leave it to the local leaders."  

Montague is actually working with Moms for Liberty to take court action, stating "we do plan on seeking legal action." 

Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.