Seminole County to consider tightening mask rules for elementary school students

Leaders in Seminole County are proposing tighter rules when it comes to wearing masks on campus.

In an email to parents, Superintendent Walt Griffin said he plans to make the proposal to the school board after hearing from health officials.

“The medical community has really emphasized the use of masks, even for the younger students, especially as we’re talking about going face-to-face,” said Michael Lawrence, a district spokesman.

Lawrence said, if approved, the move would mainly impact elementary school students.

“Just making it a little bit tighter for our wearing of masks for our elementary school students as it was mandatory for our middle and high-schoolers already,” Lawrence said.

Parent Amy Jennings said she’s been preparing her two school-aged boys for mask-wearing all summer, but is now ramping things up at home as one of her kids’ is in elementary school.

“It’s like taking tests. Does everyone like to take tests? Probably not,” he said. 

Lawrence said teachers will enforce mask-use and extra ones will be on hand at all schools.

“Teachers in their classes will remind them of what those rules are if they see a student taking it off or playing with it or whatnot," he said.

Students will not be disciplined if they forget their mask or lose it. In those cases, schools will supply a disposable mask. Those who refuse to wear masks may be removed from the classroom. If it is a continual problem, school officials will suggest switching to SeminoleConnect, the district’s online option.

“That could be potential. They may go to the front office and have a parent phone call if they simply refuse to wear a mask, that would probably vary by situation,” Lawrence said. “We’re going to be as understanding as possible with the situation, given what we’re dealing with, but at the same time we need to keep the other students in the classroom as safe as possible.”

Jennings said, for her, enforcement starts at home. She plans to begin preparing for the possible change by adding mask-wearing to everyday activities.

“Have the children wear them while they use their tablets. It’s an activity that they would do anyway,” she said.