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Here's how parents can opt-out of Palm Beach County's school mask policy

District says simple note all that's needed
Posted at 1:50 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 21:45:37-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Palm Beach County School District offered more details Monday on how parents can opt-out their child from having to wear a mask while attending school this fall.

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Officials said Monday that parents can simply write a note stating that they are choosing to opt-out their child from the mandatory mask policy.

There is no need to cite the statute or provide further details, the school district said.

Example: "August 10, 2021 - I am opting for my child [Insert name] to not wear a facial covering while at school. Signed, [insert parent name]."

The announcement comes after Saturday's decision by Interim Palm Beach County Superintendent Mike Burke said that facial coverings will be mandatory inside schools and buses for all students unless the student's parent or guardian chooses to opt out of the requirement.

Meagan Bell has been fighting for a mask mandate for all students in the Palm Beach County School District.

"Mandatory masking is going to keep them a lot safer," Bell said. "It's a whole lot better than what we had last week, so I feel thankful for that."

Sean Sykes is sending his seventh-grade student back to school Tuesday and said he will choose to opt-out his child from wearing a face covering.

"There is no mask mandate. All he did was change the wording. It's still optional," Sykes said.

Employees of the district and visitors do not have the option to opt out of the mask policy.

Classroom Teachers Association President Justin Katz said Monday that they believe there needs to be some form of opt-out or leeway for vaccinated teachers regarding masks.

“The district refused to Impact Bargain their changes to employee mask policies to allow an opt-out for vaccinated teachers," Katz tild WPTV later after discussions between the Classroom Teacher’s Association and district staff.

"Teachers who refuse to mask may be subject to immediate suspension, without pay, and potential termination if they refuse to mask up," he added.

As for further discussions, Katz said, “I don't expect them to reconsider. So we will be filing an Unfair Labor Practice charge against them this week due to the refusal to abide collective bargaining rights in state law.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last month that gives parents the right to choose whether their children should be masked and threatens to withhold funding from school districts that don't comply.

The governor's executive order stated that "masking children may lead to negative health and societal ramifications."

Some groups have called on a mandate of masks in Florida schools as COVID-19 cases spiked this summer.