Seminole County votes to keep mask mandate for now, ends remote learning option for next year

The mask mandate will stay in Seminole County for now. 

Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of keeping some new revisions that Commissioner Jay Zembower proposed. 

"This body should revisit this issue every 30 days or every second board of county commissioners meeting of every month. The facial covering order shall be removed once 50% of the county’s eligible population has been vaccinated and there has been 30 days of declining community transmission or sooner... Should the Seminole County medical community and subject experts represented here today recommend appropriate to do so," Zembower said.

Commission chambers were filled mostly with people not wearing masks on Tuesday. There was a loud reaction of boos from them after Zembower read his proposal. Around 40 residents voiced their opinions to commissioners. A great majority of them want the mask mandate to go away.   

"I’m being treated as a second-class citizen because I refuse to wear a mask in my daily activities," one man said addressing the board. 

"Mandating in masks for kids all day in school is child abuse," a woman said. 

"Let our people go," another man said.

On the flipside of this argument is the medical community. The county’s epidemiologist said the COVID-19 positivity rate is up above 10% again and that the number of hospitalizations are up too, so it’s not the time to pull back a mask mandate. 

Doctors from each of the county’s three larger hospitals backed that opinion, and so did Seminole County Medical Director Dr. Todd Husty. 

"I get it, we’re all darn tired of it. It’s kind of like, 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?  No. We are not there yet,'" Dr. Husty said.

Only 43% of people in the county who are eligible for the vaccine have been vaccinated, according to health officials.

Another topic of discussion at Tuesday's school board meeting was the decision to end the county's "Seminole Connect" remote learning option for the 2021-2022 school year.

Board members voted to end that choice, leaving only two learning options next school year: face-to-face learning and Seminole County Virtual School.