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Hillsborough Public Schools To Require Masks Unless Parents Opt Out

Robin Heilweil, 6, wears a mask while swinging around with her kindergarten class at Kenter Canyon School in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Hillsborough’s mask requirement will be in place until at least Sept. 3, the announcement from Superintendent Addison Davis said.

The requirement marks a change of course for the district, which had said previously that masks would be optional.

Hillsborough County public schools will require masks, unless a parent or guardian fills out a form to opt their child out, an announcement from the district’s superintendent said Saturday.

The requirement marks a change of course for the district, which had said previously that masks would be optional. It comes after the Florida Department of Health on Friday adopted an emergency rule, which states “Students may wear masks or facial coverings as a mitigation measure, however, the school must allow for a parent or legal guardian to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask.”

Hillsborough’s mask requirement will be in place until at least Sept. 3, the announcement from Superintendent Addison Davis said.

“While the outcome may be the same whether we make face coverings optional or required with an opt-out, we believe this decision continues to illustrate that Hillsborough County Public Schools takes public safety seriously,” Davis said. “We want to ensure we are doing all we can to help community-wide efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Parents should speak with their children so students follow their wishes regarding wearing masks in school, he said.

Parents who wish to send their child to school without a mask, should fill out this form.

Face masks for school employees remains optional, but the district highly recommends all employees wear one.

It was not clear whether other counties in the greater Tampa Bay region would follow suit after Friday’s announcement from the health department.

The Pinellas County School Board has a special meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.

Classes begin on Tuesday in Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota and Hernando counties and on Wednesday in Pinellas.

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