30-day mask policy is instituted after 3 to 2 vote

By a vote of 3 to 2, the Brevard County School Board decided to institute a 30-day mask policy to combat the rising number of COVID-19 cases following an emergency meeting Aug. 30. The policy goes into effect immediately.

School Board members Cheryl McDougall and Jennifer Jenkins and board chair Misty Belford voted in favor of the temporary mandate, while member Katye Campbell and vice chairman Matt Susin voted against it.

On Aug. 27, the district announced its highest increase in COVID-19 cases and quarantines for the school year, with 784 students and staff testing positive and 4,021 quarantined from Aug. 24 to Aug 26. The district has now seen over 3,000 cases since it began tracking numbers Aug. 2.

Jenkins said the district has 10 staff members in the ICU, four of whom are on ventilators. She said one student is on a ventilator.

Brevard joins 10 other Florida counties in defiance of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order forbidding schools from requiring masks.

The emergency meeting was called by Jenkins following the Aug. 27 ruling by Judge John Cooper of the Second Judicial Court of Florida in Tallahassee. He ruled that Florida's Constitution requires public schools to keep students safe, and therefore, school districts have the right to impose mask mandates and other health-related policies to protect students.

According to district officials, all administrators, staff, students and volunteers – everyone in an indoor school setting — will be required to wear a face covering unless they are participating in intense physical activity. BPS students will be allowed to opt out with a signed note from a licensed medical professional. District officials said the policy is less lenient than the one in place last year, which did not require masks for students in the second grade or younger.