Mask Mandate Update

The mask mandates have been constantly changing as time progress, but the mandate is being relieved.

Jenna Falkowski, Staff Writer

Parents, students, teachers and staff have all been suffering through this pandemic while also struggling to keep themselves protected. Hillsborough county has gone back and forth on whether or not to mandate wearing a mask. They just previously decided on creating the parent opt-out form so students would not have to wear a mask. However, things have changed and the mandate is being relieved.

Governor Ron Desantis has now signed four bills that affect Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS). Currently, under the House bill, school districts can’t require a mask mandate anymore, regardless of the opt-out form. It is effective immediately and although they will not enforce it anymore, students can still wear masks if it is their or their parent’s preference.

When teachers are educating the students they see many students wearing a mask and many not wearing one, regardless of the rules set in place.

Tomas Montero, Economics and Government teacher at RHS said, “Parents should still be cautious and educate their kids on the effects this virus has had, while also encouraging them that they still need to protect themselves. Students get immunized for things like chickenpox and the flu, why should the covid-19 vaccine be any different especially with all the lives it’s taken?”

The bill makes it to where employers, private and public, from requiring that their employees get vaccinated for COVID-19 without providing multiple opt-out options. It stops all COVID-19 vaccination mandates for students while also keeping the same quarantine restrictions that have been in place under the Department of Health. Other major ideas in the House Bill say that government entities may not require COVID-19 vaccinations of anyone. As well as school districts may not have school face mask policies or quarantine healthy students.

The biggest difference in this law is the requirement of the opt-out form signed by the parent to let the student not wear a face mask. However, there are still significant fines put in place that can be forced upon because of certain violations. HCPS’ number one priority is to maintain the health and wellness of its students and staff.

Therefore Hillsborough County Public Schools are still continuing to follow CDC guidelines to help limit the spread of the coronavirus by providing hand sanitizer, sanitizing desks and cooperating with health providers around to give vaccinations and guidance. Helping people not only protect themselves but others around them as well.

While it’s hard to know for sure whether or not teachers are actually following these guidelines,  RHS Senior Brianna Stearns says “I feel like a majority of teachers have sanitizer, tissues and other things for cleaning it’s just up to the student to use them. Which some kids will sanitize their hands or wipe something after using it, but others don’t. So I feel like it is in the student’s hands to endure their own safety.”