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Hillsborough County parents can now opt their children out of wearing masks in school

Boy wearing a mask, coloring in school
Pasco County Schools
The Hillsborough County School Board voted to allow parents to decide whether their children can opt out of wearing masks in school.

The Hillsborough County School Board voted to remove the medical opt-out clause and give parents the choice of whether their children wear masks.

Hillsborough County parents can once again choose whether their children wear masks in school.

The Hillsborough County School Board voted on the change during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.

On Aug. 18, board members voted to require that students and staff wear masks but allowed exemptions for medical reasons, citing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and defying Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order that aimed to block student mask mandates by local school districts.

The board extended that requirement on Sept. 10.

Tuesday's vote removes the medical opt-out requirement.

In a press release, the board cited a significant decrease in the rate of COVID-19 isolations and quarantines over the past seven weeks since the mandate went into effect.

Parents must submit an online form on the school district's website to opt their children out of wearing masks.

The new policy goes into effect Thursday.

The change comes as the state Board of Education has scheduled a meeting Thursday to look at whether Hillsborough and 10 other school districts are in compliance with a state Department of Health rule enacted to enforce the executive order,

The rule requires parents to make the choice on mask wearing. Last week, the rule was revised to allow parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or go to school after being exposed to people who have COVID-19.