As a result of the significant increase in the local COVID-19 positivity rate, and in an effort to protect their workforce, Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins announced that face masks are required for all adults including employees, visitors, and vendors, in OCPS buildings and vehicles through the end of January.
Due to recent changes in Florida law, schools and school districts cannot require students to wear masks; however, OCPS is strongly encouraging it.
“We are strongly encouraging our employees to wear a face mask for their protection and the protection of others as the latest COVID-19 variant is proving to be highly contagious even for vaccinated individuals,” Orange County Public Schools stated. “There is no requirement for students but face masks can add another layer of protection for all. Therefore, due to the highly contagious nature of the Omicron variant, we strongly encourage you to consider face masks for your students at this time. Remember you must keep your children home if they are sick or symptomatic. The district remains committed to our safety protocols and plans to provide more testing and vaccination opportunities in partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.”
OCPS also reported that some parents have inquired about keeping their child home due to the climb in COVID-19 cases in Orlando. OCPS is not encouraging parents to do so, but if a parent chooses to keep a child home due to health concerns, the absence will be marked excused if the student keeps up with their assignments. The school system encouraged parents to reach out to the child’s teacher to receive weekly assignments if choosing to keep them home from school.
As Orange County continues to track the climbing COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations, OCPS will continue to monitor the data and decision to require face masks.