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Commissioner who contracted COVID supports optional masks in schools

Posted at 12:47 AM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 00:47:11-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Commissioner and Chiles High school teacher Brian Welch said even after his entire family contracted COVID-19, he still thinks mask optional is the way to go when classes in Leon County Schools start again this fall.

"I think they're handling it the right way," Welch said.

Welch posted a message to social media, explaining how his family contracted the virus after his daughter attended summer cheer camp, despite the fact that he said, "we had all been vaccinated to some extent."

The Leon County health department released information this month indicating an increase in cases was tied in part to summer camp outbreaks. Similar trends have also been seen in Texas, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, causing some wonder whether schools are next.

But, with only 12 cases during the last 2 weeks of summer school classes, Leon County Schools stands by their decision to let parents decide whether their children will mask up.

"All signs point to masks being optional in August when students return. As of right now, there are no plans to change that," said LCS spokesperson Chris Petley.

The district continues to encourage vaccination for children 12 and older while they wait for vaccinations to become available for their younger students. And while he's unwavering in his support for optional masks despite his current COVID symptoms, Welch offers a word of caution.

"I think that the big takeaways from my experience are you can't just let your guard down. And certainly, if you've not been vaccinated, you need to wear a mask in indoor public areas," Welch said.

Fall classes are currently set to begin August 11.