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Hillsborough County School Board extends mask mandate with medical opt-out

The district says face coverings are helping limit coronavirus cases.

The Hillsborough County School Board on Thursday voted to extend the district's mask mandate for 30 more days.

The policy, which includes a medical opt-out, applies to all students, teachers and staff. It was originally set to expire Sept. 17. The extension keeps it in place until Oct. 15.

District leaders say the masks are helping minimize COVID-19 cases, which persist in classrooms.

A district spokesperson said 5,647 staff and students – or a little more than 2.3 percent – were quarantining or in isolation, as of Wednesday. That's about a 47 percent drop since Aug. 18, when the current mask mandate was put in place.

Student cases have decreased about 54 percent in the last 2.5 weeks.

"The district will continue following other mitigation strategies on campus and in district facilities that are recommended by the CDC including having hand sanitizer throughout our buildings and encouraging hand washing throughout the day," Hillsborough County Public Schools wrote in an email.

A spokesperson said the district is working with health partners to offer vaccination clinics.

Earlier this month, the school district confirmed it had no plans to change its mask mandate, despite a letter from Florida's commissioner of education, who threatened to withhold board member salaries if it stayed in place.

The state's battle over mask mandates is continuing in court.

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