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Florida education commissioner asks school districts to make face masks voluntary next year

The commissioner cited a lack of evidence that linked mask mandates and the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With another pandemic-filled school year winding down, Florida's education commissioner is currently looking toward next year and face mask policies.

In a letter, Commissioner Richard Corcoran asked school districts across the state to no longer make face masks mandatory during the 2021-22 school year. The commissioner cited a lack of evidence that linked mask mandates and the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

The letter did not, however, detail the specific evidence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that, at this time, "masks be worn at all times, by all people in school facilities, with certain exceptions for certain people, or for certain settings or activities, such as while eating or drinking."

RELATED: CDC: Less than 1% of Florida students got COVID at school

Another reason Corcoran gives is that parents may be hesitant to allow students to return to in-person learning because of mandatory masks.

"Upon reviewing the policies of those districts with mandatory face covering policies, reviewing all districts relevant health data, and factoring in such data points as the percentage of students learning in-person and the relative population of a county (which is often synonymous with a county’s community health resources), the data shows us that districts’ face covering policies do not impact the spread of the virus.," Corcoran's letter read.

Currently, face masks are required in several Tampa Bay school districts.

RELATED: Pasco County lifts indoor mask mandate, but schools will still require face coverings

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