Robinson’s Return to Normalcy Amid New Mandates

A 30-day mask mandate has been issued by the Hillsborough County School Board for all district buildings.


Photo Ingalls Witte

Students (left to right) Grace Barrett (‘23) and Madelyn Ruyle (‘23) mask up while working on art.

Ingalls Witte, Staff Writer

Following a summer of no mandates, students at Robinson High School return to open stands, no social distancing and even the promise of homecoming. But as COVID cases rise, Robinson’s return to normalcy may very well be put on pause.

Within a little over two weeks of students returning to school, Hillsborough County Public Schools now has, as of today, 7,002 reported cases, 5,878 of them consisting of students and 1,124 consisting of faculty and staff. This rapid spike in positive cases has resulted in 9522 quarantined, almost 4% of the district.

On Thursday, Aug. 19, the Hillsborough County School Board responded with a vote to make masks mandatory for all students, unless medically exempt, until Friday, Sept. 17.

Offering no opt-out option as they had two weeks prior, the School Board is in direct defiance of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who issued an executive order in July ensuring that parents would be given the option to choose whether or not their child should wear a mask.

When asked, most students remain indifferent in the matter but agree that the mandate is necessary given the circumstances.

“I think it’s good because it’s only protecting the students and faculty and keeping the schools open,” Rocco Lleras (’24) said.

Junior Sarah Blackshear agrees.

”I understand why it was put in place, but I still believe students and parents should be free to choose regarding masks,” Blackshear said.

Freshman Anna-Saphia Rogers (’25) echoes the same sentiment.

“It’s for the best, I want this pandemic to be over,” Rogers said.

Junior Madelyn Llewellyn has reservations on how well it will be enforced.

“I think that it’s a good idea but because they had the previous policy in place a lot of people aren’t willing to follow it,” Llewellyn said.

With this vote, Hillsborough joins Broward, Alachua, Duval, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Sarasota and Palm Beach counties in resisting DeSantis and setting a precedent for other schools to follow suit.