PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The Pasco County School district announced it might not enforce mask-wearing by the end of April 2021.
The announcement comes after the Pasco County Government decided to end its local mask mandate on Monday. The decision has parents in Pasco County divided.READ MORE: Ghosts of Ybor City | 5 Part Series
Rachel Foley says, “My son shouldn’t have to wear a mask to school if I don’t say that he doesn’t have to. I think it should kind of be a parent’s choice at this point.”
Conversely, another Pasco County parent, Cheryl Lerman says, “If we started the year this way, there’s a reason we asked the kids to put on the masks at the beginning of the year. We are nowhere near where we need to be to say we are completely giving everyone who’s chosen to have a vaccine.”
The district announced Tuesday that its authority to require masks depends on whether or not Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order is extended beyond April 26, 2021. A statement from the district reads, “If the executive order is not extended, the district will have no choice but to make masks optional.”READ MORE: The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office In Contract With FDOT For Speed Enforcement
CW44’s Casey Albritton contacted the Florida Department of Education and officials there said school districts are allowed to regulate their own mask policies at a local level. Something that Lerman claims is putting children and families at an unnecessary risk. She says she wants students, teachers and staff to wear masks through the end of the school year, then re-evaluate the situation in August 2021.
“We’re only allowed to vaccinate [people, ages] 16 and up and I know the children are – I’m not going to say the least susceptible to this, but they can be carriers.” said Lerman.
On the other hand, Foley says her six-year-old son is having a hard time wearing a mask in school. “His social skills have declined significantly. His allergies have been ten times worse than any normal year.” She says with the vaccine available on such a wide scale, she’s now comfortable with students not wearing masks. “Let us make the decision that best fits our children. Not every kid is the same. It’s not a cookie-cutter situation.”MORE NEWS: Drive-Thru Pumpkin Patch Put On By Sheriff Chad Chronister
The district says it is waiting to see what the Governor decides to do with the executive order on April 26 before they make the final decision.