Broward County Schools Step Lightly Around DeSantis Mask Rules

Broward County Schools Step Lightly Around DeSantis Mask Rules toy school bus with a face mask and rapid covid test (Dreamstime)

By Jack Gournell | Thursday, 30 December 2021 07:25 PM

Broward County Public Schools are set to hold an emergency school board meeting Friday on whether to require employees, vendors and visitors to wear face coverings when the students and staff return from winter break, according to an email to parents obtained by Newsmax.

The plan aims to keep the surging omicron variant of COVID-19 at bay while avoiding penalties imposed by a law passed by a Republican Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Nov. 18.

The email, sent at 4:55 p.m. Thursday, tells parents that the district is closely monitoring local conditions and plans to "follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure the health and safety of students and employees."

"Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases during the holidays driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, the BCPS School Board will be holding an emergency school board meeting on Friday, December 31, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. to review and possibly revise Policy #2170 for employees, vendors and visitors," the email says.

"The revision under consideration could result in the requirement for employees, vendors and visitors to wear face coverings while indoors at any District school, facility or vehicle beginning Monday, January 3, 2022."

The email notes that the law signed by DeSantis prohibits school districts from requiring students to wear face coverings.

"However, BCPS highly encourages students to wear face coverings as a mitigating factor to help control the spread of the Omicron variant," the email says. "Parents, guardians and caregivers are urged to send their children to school wearing face coverings. BCPS is also asking that if children are ill, exhibiting symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 to please keep their children at home."

The email stresses to parents that any further action is beyond its control, stating that the Nov. 18 law "contains very specific language regarding face covering usage requirements for students and quarantine requirements for students and employees."

It adds: "The law also has financial penalties when districts do not follow the requirements, including that school districts incurring attorney fees and court costs for parents who bring legal action against the district and prevail. Effective this school year, school districts cannot provide intermittent virtual school options to students due to the Florida Department of Education's emergency orders expiring this past summer. The new law and expiration of the intermittent virtual education option are state actions that the District or School Board cannot modify."

Newsmax has contacted DeSantis' office for comment, but had not received a reply Thursday evening.

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