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Florida Department of Health emergency rule requires school districts to allow for parental opt-out of mask mandates

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

The Florida Department of Health has issued an emergency rule to provide guidance to school districts concerning COVID-19 protocols in schools. The stated purpose of the rule is to “encourage a safe and effective in-person learning environment for Florida’s schoolchildren during the upcoming school year; to prevent the unnecessary removal of students from school; and to safeguard the rights of parents and their children.”

The emergency rule was issued in response to and conforming to the governor’s Executive Order 21-175, directing that any COVID-19 mitigation actions must “protect parents’ right to make decisions regarding masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.”

The rule says that “removing healthy students from the classroom for lengthy quarantines should be limited at all costs… Removing children from school poses a threat to developmental upbringing and should not occur absent a heightened showing of illness or risk of illness to other students.”

The rule states that children should stay home if they are sick and “may wear masks or facial coverings as a mitigation measure; however, the school must allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask.”

Students who are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19 should not attend school, school-sponsored activities, or be on school property until:

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  • The student has a negative test and is asymptomatic; OR
  • Ten days have passed since the onset of symptoms or positive test result, the student has had no fever for 24 hours, and the other symptoms are improving; OR
  • The student receives written permission to return to school from a doctor or advanced registered nurse practitioner.

Students with exposure to COVID-19 should not attend school, school-sponsored activities, or be on school property until:

  • The student is asymptomatic and receives a negative COVID-19 test after four days from the date of last exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual; OR
  • The student is asymptomatic and seven days have passed since the date of last exposure to the COVID-19 positive individual.
  • If a student becomes symptomatic following exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual, the student should follow the procedures for symptomatic students.

Students who received a positive COVID-19 test in the previous 90 days are not subject to the protocols as long as they remain asymptomatic. If a student becomes symptomatic, the student should follow the procedures for symptomatic students.

The rule also states that students whose parents or legal guardians have opted them out of a mask requirement should not be harassed or discriminated against, including but not limited to:

  • Relegation to certain physical locations;
  • Isolation during school activities;
  • Exclusion from any school-sponsored events or activities.

Also, the Florida Department of Education Board of Education met this morning and passed rules that require school districts to “continue the education of the student” during quarantine periods in order to count them as in attendance on those days; and the extension of Hope Scholarships or ability to transfer to another school or school district for students who experience harassment as a result of a mask requirement in their public school.

  • Who would have ever envisioned Dr. Seuss’ literary work, “The Sneetches and Other Stories,” from the 1950’s would go on to become the measure by which people in society would judge each other?

    All you liberal wingnuts….keep on believing.

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