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District moves up date for opt-out policy for masks in Palm Beach County schools

Palm Beach County School District. (WPEC)
Palm Beach County School District. (WPEC)
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The School District of Palm Beach County moved up the date to go with an opt-out policy for masks in schools.

The district originally planned to allow it on Nov. 15.

But after a "new development" at the state level, the district decided to start the policy on Monday, Nov. 8, for all grade levels.

The new development came when an administrative law judge upheld an emergency rule enacted by the Florida Department of Health on masks, which essentially meant decisions to opt out of student mask requirements are at the “sole discretion” of parents or guardians.

A number of school districts, including Broward, Miami-Dade, Alachua and Leon Counties, challenged the rules. Some faced fines as a result. The school district in Palm Beach County had argued its mandate fell within state guidelines.

"The School Board, and the Superintendent, have done everything within their power to prioritize the health of our students and staff," said the district in a letter to parents on Saturday. "Despite this change, we continue to believe that the District's decisions have complied with the law and our Constitutional duty to keep our campuses safe and our schools open for in-person instruction."

Mobile vaccinations for children are underway across the district. The mobile clinic will be at Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary and Lake Park Elementary on Monday. Parents can view the full schedule online.

According to the district's COVID-19 dashboard, there have been more than 6,600 reported cases of COVID-19 in schools. More than 5,700 involve students, and more than 900 involve school employees. Seminole Ridge High School reported 155 cases of COVID-19, the most in the district.

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