BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay District School Board has made some changes to its mask policy. The decision to make face coverings optional was met with both support and opposition.
This past school year masks have been required for students, staff, and visitors if proper social distancing cannot be made. Now the school board has made a huge decision, making mask-wearing completely optional.
School Board Member Jerry Register originally recommended masks be optional on all school property, including buses, playgrounds, lunchrooms, and auditoriums.
This recommendation was passed unanimously and will even include summer school and the following school year. School Board Chairman Steve Moss said the data backs up their decision.
“Our in-house experts, folks from the community, it all leads to the decision made by the board today which was to make masks optional, effective immediately,” said Moss.
Some students however disagreed with the change and addressed the board.
“The data that I read supports masks and supports social distancing. That’s the only data there is in my world,” said Bay High School Senior Daniel Shultz.
Bay District COVID Health expert Lindsey Jackson says things within the classroom have drastically improved since quarantine guidelines have been reduced from six to three feet.
“I think we had about 1600 staff and students that were quarantined in January and this past month and April we only quarantined a little over 200,” said Jackson.
“I felt comfortable voting not only as a chairman voting this way but also as a dad voting this way sending both of my kiddos tomorrow mask-free because again the data backs that up,” said Moss.
Those happy with the board’s decision say it was about time.
“We know that wearing masks interferes with education, in particularly younger students.” said Local Dermatologist Dr. Jon Ward.
“We have starved a generation of Americans because we have indulged in the authoritarian tendencies of public health experts,” said Bay County Republican Party Leader Tho Bishop.
Right now specifics, such as quarantine details and other issues regarding masks have been tabled to discuss at the next school board meeting which will take place on May 25.
This policy does not affect charter schools. The CEO of Bay Haven and North Bay Haven Charter Academy Larry Bolinger. He said Bay Haven Schools will continue to follow the CDC Guidelines through May 25th, the last day of school for students.