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School Board Discusses Changing OCPS Face Coverings to Optional

OCPS face coveringsDuring yesterday’s Work Session, the Orange County School Board reviewed school board policy EBBA – Disease Prevention; Face Coverings for OCPS. The School Board heard from district staff on proposed revisions to the current policy. They also had discussions and received feedback from members of the Medical Advisory Committee and Dr. Raul Pino with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County related to the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine.

During work sessions there is no public input or vote by the School Board. Any changes to the policy must go through the rulemaking process governed by Section 120.54, Florida Statutes.

Proposed revisions to School Board Policy EBBA includes:

Section I: Rule – Face coverings will be permitted at the discretion of each student, employee, visitor, or vendor, but not required.

Face Coverings Policy – The revised policy cites the guidance from Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Florida’s Surgeon General Scott Rivkees and states the district’s desire to rely upon their guidance for the purposes of the newly enacted Section 768.38 immunity from liability for COVID-19 claims.

“As we are planning to provide our students with robust summer programs and welcoming students returning to school in the 2021-2022 school year, we expect more students to participate in face-to-face instruction,” Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran’s memorandum to all School District Superintendents said. “Right now, our schools are safer than the communities at large. This safety record should only increase next school year with the increased availability of vaccines. With this return, we ask that districts, which currently are implementing a mandated face covering policy, revise their policy to be voluntary for the 2021-2022 school year.”

Section I: CDC Guidance or Guidance from Other Governmental Entities – This provision states the school board will allow the superintendent to implement more restrictive face covering requirements if the CDC or other government entities issues such guidance.

Section II: Effective Date – The effective date of this policy is “no later than August 2, 2021.” This is before the start of the new school year, but after the expiration of the current memorandum of understanding with the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association.

The rest of the current policy would be repealed. See the updated OCPS face coverings policy and Redline changes to Policy EBBA here.

School Board Policy EBBA will be presented at the next Rule Development Workshop on June 17th with public input.  A vote by the school board and final policy adoption will take place at the July 13 school board meeting with public comment.

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