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Your guide to Tampa Bay-area school mask mandates

With rising COVID cases and changing policies, it can be hard to know which schools are requiring masks. Here's where the school districts stand.

TAMPA, Fla. — The surge in back-to-school coronavirus cases among students and staff led Tampa Bay-area school districts to rethink their mask policies.

Several school boards have held emergency meetings in recent weeks to consider putting stricter mask mandates in place instead of the optional face-covering policies they began the school year with.

And with the ongoing legal battle between Gov. Ron DeSantis and a group of Bay area parents over the governor's ban of school mask mandates, it can be hard to keep track of where your county stands on the issue.

Here's a guide to Tampa Bay area school districts' mask policies.

Citrus County

Citrus County schools do not have a mask mandate in place but say face-coverings are available on all school buses and campuses.

Hillsborough County

On Aug. 19, the Hillsborough County School Board voted to approve a stricter 30-day mask mandate, with an opt-out option available to students only for medical reasons as long as they submit a doctor's note. 

The board plans to revisit the issue in September.

Pasco County

Pasco County schools do not have a mask mandate in place, meaning masks are completely optional for students and staff in county schools and workplaces.

Pinellas County

Currently, Pinellas County schools are "strongly recommending" that students wear masks without an official mandate in place. This means that right now, parents have the choice to mask up their kids or not.

But this could change on Tuesday, as the school board is scheduled to meet to consider a stricter mandate requiring maks. 

Polk County

Polk County schools do not have a mask mandate in place but say that masks are "strongly encouraged."

Manatee County

Manatee County schools have a temporary mask mandate for students and staff that includes an opt-out option for both. It will last at least through Aug. 25.

Sarasota County

On Aug. 20, Sarasota County schools approved a 90-day mask mandate for students and staff with an opt-out option only for medical exemptions.

After 90 days, the board will decide if the policy will stay in place based on the county's coronavirus positivity rate.

You can track the latest reported COVID-19 cases in Tampa Bay area school districts here.

RELATED: Here's how to track reported COVID-19 cases at Tampa Bay area school districts

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