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Leon County Schools to participate in hearing against Department of Health Thursday

Posted at 12:27 AM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 11:10:05-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Schools will join five other Florida School districts in court Thursday in an attempt to regain local control over whether masks are needed in schools.

LCS will be going up against the Department of Health's Sept. 22 emergency order which says that schools must allow for a parent to opt the student out of wearing a face covering or mask at the parent's sole discretion.

In August, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran argued, "We have districts who are picking and choosing what laws they want to follow. That is in violation of the rule of law that makes this country great and special more than any other reason."

However, LCS and other districts will have counsel from Attorney Jamie Cole.

"We're trying to invalidate the emergency rule," Cole says. "There's two legal grounds. The first was that it was not properly enacted as an emergency. Second, we believe that the department of health exceeded their rule-making authority."

Cole argues their authority should be limited to stopping the spread of infectious disease, not granting or limiting parental rights.

LCS parent Hayley Scott said the district's current mask policy protects her 7-year-old son Zarek who lives with a kidney condition.

"I certainly fear for his safety, and it could be life threatening if he were to contract COVID," said Scott. "It's something his dad and I are talking about prioritizing his health over his education and pulling him from school."

She's one of a handful of parents who agreed to Dr. Alan Cox's request to testify in Thursday's hearing if needed.

Her's and other parents' concerns are reasons Cox said, "Our decision to have this one certain group still wear a mask is still based on what we feel is best for our community."

Just this week, LCS removed the need for a doctor's note to opt students out of wearing masks. However, if a student has been identified as sharing close quarters with a known positive case, the district still requires them to mask up while at school for seven days.