Local school districts keep mask policies in place despite Gov. DeSantis suspending all COVID rulings

Mask policies in schools remain in place, even after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended all local emergency orders. 

The governor is taking a hands-off approach when it comes to school districts policies, saying the districts should decide if the masks should stay or go. 

"I personally do not believe the juice isn't worth the squeeze in terms of putting masks on kids at this juncture," Gov. DeSantis said. 

State Representative Anthony Sabatini sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis saying he should take it a step further and issue another executive order ending mask mandates for students. 

A small group of parents also fed up with mask requirements in schools gathered in front of the Seminole County School District Administration Building Tuesday calling on the district to get rid of the policy now. 

"We’re here to let them know not all parents are on board with this and it’s got to stop right now," said Matt Buff, who was protesting the mask policy. 

"At the end of the day, they’re elected officials representing our families and our children, and our kids need to be able to take the mask off if they choose to," said Melissa Taylor, a parent. 

On Monday, the governor suspended all local emergency orders related to the pandemic. The Florida Department of Education says the orders do not impact any school districts' policies for the remainder of the school year. 

Several Central Florida school districts including Volusia, Seminole and Orange Counties reached out to parents to let them know there wouldn't be any changes following the governor's announcement.

Seminole County said there was confusion from some parents on what the emergency orders meant for their children in the classroom. 

Taylor believes there's no reason to wait until next school year to make a change to the policy, pointing to when Gov. DeSantis said Florida is no longer in a state of emergency. 

"Yesterday, DeSantis said the pandemic was over. We need to go back to living our normal, everyday life everywhere," Taylor said. 

The Seminole County School District says it will be discussing potential changes to policies for the next school year on June 1. 

"All of us hope that maybe we’ll be able to do away with masks or have masks optional, but we’ll wait and see based on the health professionals [and] where we are with the virus to make those decisions," said Michael Lawrence, with Seminole County Public Schools. 

Right now, the majority of students are not eligible for the vaccine, but he says if it opens to 12 and older that could make an impact. 

"That could help change some of the variables of decision-making processes as we head into the next school year because by then, maybe those students can get the vaccine," Lawrence said.