School board extends masking until November 15 with high school parental opt-out starting October 19


At the October 5 Alachua County School Board meeting, the board decided to extend their mask mandate through November 15 but allow parental opt-out for high schoolers starting October 19. Grades K-8 will still need a medical exemption form signed by a doctor or nurse practitioner to opt out of masking.

In board discussion after presentations from University of Florida medical advisors and comments from the public, Member Tina Certain said she agreed with one of the doctors, who had suggested that the district’s mask mandate continue for 9 weeks past the current expiration date of October 19 so that children in the 5-11 age group can be vaccinated. She said they could have parent opt-out for 12 and up, “but it would really be best to say high-schoolers because in the middle school, I think it would be too much of a burden on the teachers to try to distinguish between the two, but I am leery of rolling back the mandate at this point for fear of a spike… We may have to go back… and I think that’s what our community will need to know.” She added that any change in policy would start after the current policy ends on October 18. 

Member Gunnar Paulson said the board needs “to be meeting more often and kept up on things” so they could discuss what they might want to do after the 4-week extension of the masking policy. He also said he wanted to have a discussion about the September 22 emergency rule from the Department of Health (although he said it was from the governor) “instead of just shooting in the dark.”

Member Rob Hyatt asked Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon for her recommendation. Simon recommended parental opt-out for children who are eligible for the vaccine. “I think parent opt-out would benefit the district in the sense that we would have a form that we would be able to track and collect so we could also really understand how many students are in our schools that have the exemption, and then for the students who are not old enough to have the vaccine, they remain masked until the vaccine has been released and five weeks after that date to have full immunity, and then I think it’s time to perhaps have the discussion of allowing the parent exemption at all grade levels.”

Hyatt said he would be in favor of having “a workshop specific to where we are on COVID” every other week to “get a jump on the next move we need to make.”

Member Mildred Russell said the advisors had told them that the infections are going down and “we’re in a much better place now than we were before. I think it would be good if we honored the State’s opt-out for parents, if they want to opt out, at their sole discretion, which is the new rule. I think we should give them that. Children who want to wear masks, parents who want their children to wear masks, can do so, but there’s information all over the place to justify just about any position a person wants to take.”

Chair Leanetta McNealy said, “Inasmuch as we’ve done what we’ve done to mitigate COVID among our children, I certainly think that masking… if we hadn’t done it, we wouldn’t be seeing we have come down so dramatically… if I’m seeing numbers decrease, then I want to continue in that manner… We’ve got two sets of parents,” one set that wants their children to go to school without masks, and the other set that wants their children “to be protected… We have lost so many teachers already to resignations… we need to protect our folk. It’s not just the kids; it’s our staff… I’m for masking. In fact, we can mask until June… I’m listening to the doctors… [at] the University of Florida, although we have one mistake who just got appointed, but the University of Florida has some great physicians and doctors, and that’s who we depend on in our community.”

Paulson said he didn’t want to make long-term decisions right now but meet more often and look at the statistics, but since he has to care for his wife, it’s difficult for him to come to in-person meetings more often. McNealy proposed Zoom meetings, but Certain said they’re not allowed to vote on Zoom any more, though they could possibly have Zoom workshops. 

McNealy said, “We’re not going to take a victory lap, however we want to continue with all of the things that we do in order to make our schools safe and livable… [Masks are] something that we need to get accustomed to. This is something that we need.” She talked about all the vaccines that children have to have before enrolling in kindergarten, “the same with this one.”

Certain made a motion to extend their masking policy for grades K-5 with medical opt-out for 4 weeks (after October 19) and have parental opt-out for 12 and above, and then they’ll revisit it. Hyatt seconded the motion.

Russell asked whether the medical opt-out would be at the sole discretion of the parent, and Certain said, “No, ma’am… for 12 and above, it would be a parent opt-out.”

Simon said that 11-year-olds are “a little bit of a complication” in middle schools. Hyatt asked whether it would be “problematic” for middle school staff where there would be different opt-out rules based on age, and Simon said they would be able to work it out. 

McNealy asked what they would do if cases started to rise, and Simon said she talks to her medical advisors “every single day for the last two weeks; if not that, it’s every other day… It is something that’s unpredictable… this is something that we will talk about, that when it gets to a level that we may have to have masks again, we will do this in consultation with all the doctors.”

McNealy started to move to a vote, but Prescott Cowles, who is on the district’s COVID Response Team, said, “as a former middle school teacher… if you are a sixth grader who is not yet 12, you are not yet eligible to get vaccinated, you don’t have that level of protection. There are classes where you will be with students who are eligible to be vaccinated, and under this motion, they would be eligible to opt out of wearing their masks. So those sixth graders, those 11-year-olds who do not have that level of protection, would be exposed to students who are potentially unvaccinated and potentially opting out, which my understanding is not in what the intent of the motion is… that doesn’t quite make sense.”

McNealy said Cowles had “hit right on target.” Certain modified the motion to require a medical opt-out through grade 8, with parental opt-out for high school only. Hyatt agreed with the change. 

The vote on the motion was 4-1, with Russell in dissent.

  • I wonder who McNealy was referring to when she said this- “I’m listening to the doctors… [at] the University of Florida, although we have one mistake who just got appointed… ”
    Kudos to Russell for representing the minority parents who know that cloth masks and surgical masks are useless in preventing transmission, and are the outward sign of tyrannical authority and virtue signaling.
    This horrible school board will be imposing compulsory vaccinations on all the kids as soon as there is FDA approval.
    Masking the kids did nothing to bring the spike to an end. The virus just ran its course through Florida, and the statistics will show that compulsory masking, in defiance of Florida law, did nothing beneficial for the local students.. I predict that there will also be some interesting graphs that show a rise in schoolbomb threats and a decrease in standardized test scores that correlate with masking the kids.

    • She’s probably listening to the same “doctors” who listened to her dissertation for her “doctorate.” She was such a successful administrator in the district she’s pretending to lead.

    • I didn’t hear her comment during the meeting. I’m so glad for the transcript. I, too, would like to know what she meant by ‘Mistake’. We do have a great medical community but need to listen to more than one opinion. We have the option of a second opinion when considering treatments, so should we for our children in masks. I’ve got to say that no medical professional will ever convince me that masks for children under 6 is a good option, although I don’t think masking is good for any child, but anyone can mask their child if they want.

    • Kathy – its obviously Dr. Ladapo – he is a sup-par researcher and under qualified to be a surgeon general during a pandemic. I think McNealy should have been brave enough to say his name, alluding to him is weak-sauce!
      Actually the state is already super horrible and has many compulsory vaccinations for kids (http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/immunization/publications/_documents/21-22-schoolentry-eng.pdf). Kids already need to be vaccinated 14 times to enter public school – what’s the big deal about requiring 2 more shots.
      The following reports do show benefits to masking:

      • Mark K is here to carry the Biden Scam Flag for Corporate Covid Commies Worldwide

        Raise that Flag high, Mark K!

        • Hi Swampy. I wave my flag proudly – the one with 50 stars and 13 stripes. What flag do you wave? How did the vaccine become a Biden thing? Biden wasn’t even president when it was developed and came out. Somehow you have turned rather mundane facts into something political.

    • parental opt-out for students over 12 (who are vaccine eligible) seems a reasonable 1st step / compromise!
      But “reasonable” is a very “Old School” idea!
      “compromise” is interpreted as “surrender”
      Prosperous times for lawyers & political fund raisers!
      Meanwhile in (communist) China …….

  • Shouldn’t they be giving that shot to the most
    Vulnerable of the population, the .027?…after all,
    This thing has a rounded up 100% survival rate.
    They want to use the children as guinea pigs with
    This experiment? Shouldn’t those with high risk,
    The sickly and those with multiple comorbidity
    be quarantined and
    Get the shot? What about VAERS data? Who’s gonna
    Take care of that child for the rest of their life if they
    Have a bad reaction to the shot? I think the tyrannical
    Forces that may mandate this shot will then make
    This a a perpetual booster shot thing and always
    Keep the masks too. My immune system works just
    Fine. What about the kids who have had the covid flu and now have
    The antibodies to all the variants, Why inject them
    With nanoparticles? I saw something the other day
    Where a virologist was saying they saw the nanoparticles assembling themselves into something
    That looked like tentacles…

    • P. Floyd, The survival rate is not rounded up to 100%. Also the US has enough vaccine for everyone to get a shot so there is no longer a need to ration it. Thousands of kids 5-11 have already had parental consent to be guinea pigs and have received the child dose of vaccine. Millions of teens have already been vaccinated. What about the VAERS data scares you? Most vaccines require booster shots. Why should a Covid vaccine be different. Step on a rusty nail, and then see what your Dr. says? But you do raise an interesting point – What about kids that have had covid already why inject them? I don’t think there is a lot of data regarding kids and long term natural immunity yet. Mostly because kids were pretty resistance to getting covid. But that no longer holds true for the delta variant. The scientific consensus in adults is over time antibody levels drop – either from becoming infected or receiving the vaccine. Receiving two does of vaccine provides the best protection against serious illness or death. Can you send me the link to the bigfoot sighting – oops I mean nanoparticles assembling into tentacles.

      • What does 99.7 round up to next whole #? 100
        If I gave you 99 cents, that rounds up to $1

      • Mark, just google nanoparticles assembling into tentacles…read it and weep! I sent a link to the webmaster…

      • Hydra vulgaris…found in vaccines …check it out..
        A horrifying discovery …

        • Hi Floyd. I googled your hydra, seems like conspiracy BS to me or maybe with luck the hydra will turn me into the winter soldier. Sure a bad batch of vaccine could end up with fungus or hydra, but looking at all the VAERS numbers – 0 cases of hydra being found and around 15 fungal infections I’m not worried. Also a hydra is too fat to be sucked up by the needle and then injected into you.
          By using your math rounding: 8,202 people have died after receiving the vaccine (associative not causative) out of nearly 400,000,000 vaccinations. That is 0.002% which would, by using your math, round down to 0%. Therefore the vaccine must 100% safe if close enough to 0% of people die. But the vaccine is not 100% safe, it’s just safer and way more cost effective than the alternatives (.3% is far greater than .002%).
          Also go to a venting machine and insert $1.95 and try to purchase a $2.00 soda. Rounding is a matter of convenience.

          • . I focus on the positive….practically a 100% survival rate..an optimist! You focus on the negative…ooooh! People are dying!!..you’re
            A pessimist…your glass is half empty because you focus on the negative. I am in perfect shape in every aspect and no shot. My body is
            My temple. If you got the shot, then you’re
            Protected. Don’t worry about me. I can make
            My own medical decisions. Don’t need a mob to give me an experimental shot against my will…thanks. Just worry about yourself…

  • All of you idiots who don’t think what’s going on isn’t the single greatest existential threat to American democracy are living in your very own wet dream.

    It appears the Education Department is going to weaponize the DOJ in silencing the voices against CRT and masks’ mandates. Where was the DOJ when threats were being made against police departments and conservative politicians? God gave all of humanity something rarely mentioned – freedom of thought.

    All of you naysayers complaining about not having the right to choose a vaccine or carry a firearm or vote…think about that. God gave you freedom of thought and some politicians are now looking for a means of taking that away. Scary thing is, it’s beginning in the very system we entrust to watch after our children, the education system.

    Keep believing…they will be coming after you next.

    • Yes. The plans of the new world order or “great reset”
      Are to usurp the US Constitution with the UN Constitution “The international covenant on civil & political rights”…it sounds nice, but the devil’s in the
      Details…the law can put a limit on your freedom of thought, the law can put a limit on your freedom of expression, there’s no mention of the right to bear arms
      And defend yourself. In the future, you may be confined to a village, there might be No A/C, there will be
      Animal corridors where the animals can pass…the
      Wild lands program, all those “international biosphere”
      Designations, and American Heritage River initiative
      Give United Nations forces the right to occupy those
      Areas in our sovereign nation. What does this mean?
      It means UN troops can come right up the St. John’s
      River here in Florida and 2000 Hong Kong Police
      Can come door to door and try to disarm us…If that
      Happens, I believe their will be a civil war… culpeper motto…

  • >