MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Martin County school leaders decide to keep masks for the last 12 days of school.
After two meetings and hours of public comment, the district voted 4-1 to make masks optional during the summer, beginning June 1st.
School officials said outdoor ceremonies scheduled for May 19-21 will be the exception. Ceremonies will take place outdoors and masks will not be required.
District officials told WPTV that barring a spike in COVID-19 cases over the summer, they intend to make facial coverings optional in the fall.
Superintendent Dr. John Millay and school board members held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss changes to the Martin County School District's COVID-19 policy.
Under the district's current policy, students are required to wear masks on school campuses and school buses, with the only exceptions being when they're eating and drinking or during recess and physical education.
Millay on Wednesday recommended the policy remain in place for the remainder of the school year, which ends on May 28.
However, he asked school board members to approve a Summer Transition Phase which would make facial coverings voluntary starting on June 1.
"We all need to remain flexible and vigilant in the coming months knowing that any critical change in the pandemic may also require use to make changes," Millay said.
Dr. Cheryl Jordan, Chairman of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, also spoke to the superintendent's recommendation.
"Facts are, masks do slow down the transmission," said Dr. Jordan. "The risk does raise linearly with the age and grade of the child."
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Last month, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran sent a letter to school district superintendents throughout the state, urging them to eliminate their face mask mandates and instead make facial coverings optional.
Corcoran said the mandates in schools "do not impact the spread of the virus" and "serve no remaining good at this point."
Millay on Wednesday recommended the Martin County School District follow Corcoran's guidance regarding face masks.
"Barring an unusually high spike in cases or change in pandemic circumstances, the District plans to follow this recommendation," Millay said.
The Okeechobee County School District announced that starting on Thursday, face masks will be recommended but not required inside schools.
Officials with the School District of Indian River County said they're planning to make masks optional for students next school year.
Palm Beach and St. Lucie County school districts have not announced any changes to their face mask policies, but said they're continuing to monitor the latest with the COVID-19 pandemic as the new school year approaches.