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Sarasota County To Make Masks Optional For Upcoming School Year

Sarasota County School District
The Sarasota County School Board, including Jane Goodwin, voted to make masks optional for the upcoming school year.

Sarasota County is the latest district to announce that masks will be optional for faculty and students in the 2021-2022 school year.

The Sarasota County School Board unanimously voted Tuesday to make masks optional for everyone in the school district.

This includes students, teachers, and all other faculty, and also extends to those who have not received a vaccine.

Board Chairwoman Shirley Brown said the vote also allows for protection from unvaccinated faculty and students who may receive backlash for not wearing a mask.

“It [the ruling] makes clear that somebody is not to be harassed if they are wearing or not wearing a mask,” Brown said.

With regard to the Delta variant and its potential to spread within the classrooms, Vice Board Chair Jane Goodwin said the ruling may be tweaked to cooperate with the students’ and faculty’s safety.

“In the future, if we have the Delta variant that continues, if we have cases that escalate, we may look at other things such as the CDC guidelines and we may look at the disparity between those vaccinated and those who are not,” Goodwin said. “We do have cases escalating in Florida again. There are going to be situations where we’re in large group settings and masks may be appropriate again.”

The vote followed several comments from citizens who shared their questions, comments and concerns.

Schools open in Sarasota County on Aug. 10.

Leonardo Santos is the WUSF Rush Family Social Media Intern for the fall of 2021, his second straight semester with WUSF.