Teachers union rallies at Orange County Public Schools headquarters in favor of mask mandate

Members of the Orange County teacher's union and their supporters rallied Monday morning outside Orange County Public Schools headquarters to support a mask mandate for county students. 

Lora Vail has a son in first grade. She says young kids can learn to wear them properly. 

"We teach our children not to hit other kids, to be nice to other kids, tie their shoes, not to run into the street, so we can also teach them to properly wear a mask and leave it on when they have to," Vail said.

At a work session last week, Orange County school board members said they should consider having students mask up. 

"Given the potential violation of federal law, why we shouldn't seek a universal masking policy now?" said Karen Castor Dentel, Orange County school board member

Health officials at Monday's rally say masks are critical to protecting our students.

"Our hospitals are still on black status, not performing elective procedures. Our children, while at low risk, aren't at no risk, and they absolutely transmit SARS COV-2, even asymptomatically," said Laura Hollenberger, a nurse practitioner.

This comes as a Leon County judge heard a case Monday brought by parents suing the governor, arguing his executive order against masks "impairs the safe operation of schools." 

The governor said he feels it should be left up to parents to decide whether their children should wear face coverings in school. 

Union leaders say the state should act in the best interest of students. 

The Orange County School Board meets Tuesday to discuss the district's next steps.

"We need the governor to recognize that instead of trying to limit the tools that school boards have," said Andrew Spar, with the Florida Education Association, "he needs to expand and support everything that school boards can do to fulfill their constitutional obligation to keep the learning going and keep kids safe."