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Leon County Schools mask mandate stays in place for now

Posted at 6:20 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 18:20:57-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — "Masking up. It's a requirement Leon County Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Alan Cox says will stay in place for the time being.

"Right now, we're staying the course. You know, as far as pre-K to 8th, everybody needs to wear a mask unless they have a medical opt-out," said Dr. Cox.

Leon County Schools set labor day as a benchmark, saying if COVID among children remained a concern by the holiday, masks would continue to be required.

"The Delta variant's pretty aggressive as far as the contagion goes," he said.

Dr. Cox says roughly 170 parents submitted a medical opt-out form. However, inside the classrooms overall hasn't been too much of a hassle.

"A vast majority of our student's parents have complied with wearing a mask in pre K to 8th," he said.

Wendy Halleck is a grandparent of elementary school students. She praised Superintendent Rocky Hanna for instating the mandate.

"My grandchildren had great success last year with masking and they developed a whole culture of 'we're in this together,' so the students really had a good attitude toward masking," she said.

Wendy Halleck is still advocating for more.

"I'd really like to see the mandate extended to through high school," said Halleck.

As the Delta variant rages on, the schools are seeing more cases in the classroom. LCS says last year, 800 in-person learning students caught COVID. In the last two weeks, the district has already had 400 cases.

"In terms of the acute COVID illnesses, we saw very few last years. I mean we've seen more pediatric admissions in the last month than we had the prior five to six months combined," said Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Pediatrician Dr. Thomas Truman.

Dr. Truman has a daily call with Leon County Schools and the Leon County Department of Health to make sure each agency is up to date on the spread. On September 3rd, TMH reported two children hospitalized.

"We have a 23-bed pediatric unit here at Tallahassee Memorial and a 10-bed pediatric ICU," said Dr. Truman.

His message to parents; wearing a mask and consistent hand washing will likely keep your child out of one of those beds.

So far, a secondary benchmark to revisit the mandate hasn't been set.