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The Villages
Saturday, February 4, 2023

School superintendent warns that masks could become mandatory again

Sumter County School Superintendent Rick Shirley has warned that masks could become mandatory again, depending on guidance from health officials.

School will resume Aug. 10 in Sumter County.

The superintendent announced Tuesday morning that masks, which are currently optional,  may become mandatory “at any time” based on information from the Centers for Disease Control, health department, Florida Department of Education “or superintendent’s decision” – which will be determined as COVID data and other factors become apparent.

Superintendent Rick Shirley with a student at a job fair earlier this year
Superintendent Rick Shirley with a student at a job fair earlier this year.

“Sumter will continue to provide the most up-to-date safety precautions that follow state and county health department guidelines,” Shirley said in a news release issued at about 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Later in the day, the CDC updated its guidance on masks in schools.

“CDC recommends that everyone in K through 12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a media briefing.

Reached Tuesday evening, Superintendent Shirley predicted that the school district would be offering updated guidance in the days ahead.

“We’ve got some time before school starts,” Shirley said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to call a special session of the state Legislature to pass a law banning a mask requirement in schools.

Should we go back to wearing masks? Share your thoughts in a Letter to the Editor at [email protected]

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