Parents can remove students from the mask rule without waiver

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Just hours before the start of the 2021-22 school year, Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna decided to reverse the district mask rule and move from a medical option to a parenting option. .

Here’s what that means: to start the school year, kindergarten to grade 12 students will need to wear masks; previously it only applied to K-8.

If a student shows up to school without wearing a mask, the child will be given a take home form to opt out of the mask requirement. It’s scheduled for next Monday. Before, a parent also needed a doctor’s note to withdraw.

The form will also be available on the In Class website and emailed to parents in the district.

“The goal is to open the school tomorrow morning and position ourselves if we need to take action in the future,” Hanna said at a school board meeting on Tuesday evening.

For a play-by-play of the meeting, click here.

Previous coverage:

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna's eyes fill with tears after remembering things emailed to him in response to his decision to institute a mask warrant at a meeting from the school board on Tuesday, August 10, 2021.

The move to the parenting decision came after state education commissioner Richard Corcoran said failure to comply with the emergency rules of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education would result in sanctions and “maximum liability measures provided for by law”.

Following:“Serious concern”: Florida education commissioner threatens to withhold wages from Leon’s principals

This includes a recommendation to the State Board of Education to withhold salary money, in this case, from Hanna and school board members, all of whom are elected.

Corcoran’s letter, dated Monday, said “there is no room for error or leniency when it comes to ensuring compliance with policies that allow parents and guardians to do so. health and education choices for their children “.

Leon County School Board member DeeDee Rasmussen speaks at a school board meeting on Tuesday August 10, 2021.

On Tuesday evening, board members Alva Striplin and Dee Dee Rasmussen expressed concerns about the legality of the district’s medical exclusion rule and worried about the repercussions set out in Corcoran’s letter.

“I fear for our schools if the maximum liability measures are applied,” Striplin said.

The Florida law referred to in Corcoran’s letter states that the state may withhold state funds or declare the district ineligible for grants until the district complies with the law.

Board member Darryl Jones has said he supports Hanna’s decision. He quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and recited a Baptist saying he remembered as a child, “God doesn’t want and he doesn’t need cowardly soldiers.”

Jones added: “I am ready to stand up for the safety of our children because I know it is fair.”

The public sit socially distanced at the Leon County School Board meeting on Tuesday, August 10, 2021.

The school board has come under fire from parents on both sides of the mask argument. Hanna said he was yelled at in public and called a “pathetic apology from a human being” in an email.

“I used to say that there is no other place I would live. Born here, I’ve been here all my life, and I don’t think I was more disappointed, I did. don’t, because of these things, he said, touching his mask.

“At the end of the day, I know we’ll do the right thing. I just want to do the right thing. I’m not here for politics. I just want to protect our children and get them back to school.”

The Leon County School Board is meeting on Tuesday, August 10, 2021.

On Tuesday morning, the district released a letter signed by 27 local pediatricians concerned about child hospitalizations in the state and asked the superintendent to extend the mask’s mandate to high school students as well.

“People have stood up here to keep their children from wearing masks, when these pediatricians, their doctors, are on this list,” Hanna said.

He strongly encouraged parents to mask their children except when there is a medical problem: “We beg and implore (with them) to wear a mask.”

Contact Ana Goñi-Lessan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @goni_lessan.

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