Masks will be optional when classes resume this week at The Villages Charter School.
The first day of school will be Thursday. Florida statutes will not permit charter schools to offer online courses. The Villages High School will return to a traditional seven-period school day.
Sumter County School Superintendent Rick Shirley’s office released a statement last week indicating a decision would be made on masks in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and local health officials. Within hours of the issuing of that release, the director of the CDC announced that mask-wearing should resume indoors. Later that day, Shirley indicated there was still time to make a decision about masks before the start of the school year.
Now, Gov. Ron DeSantis has essentially taken that decision out of local officials’ hands by issuing an executive order that will leave the mask decision up to parents.
“Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children,” DeSantis said.
Children under the age of 12 are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the Florida Department of Health. Numerous cases of COVID-19 were reported at The Villages Charter School last year, with a large percentage of students opting for the then-available online learning option.
With anti-masking memes dominating social media and the political rhetoric around COVID-19 heating up, it’s fair to wonder if the students who opt to wear masks – for the protection of others – will face ridicule from their peers, whose parents have chosen for them to go maskless. Share your thoughts in a Letter to Editor at [email protected]