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Hillsborough County Public Schools will require students and staff to wear masks

The rule is temporary and may be removed if the coronavirus situation improves in Florida.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. — Following calls by parents and doctors to mandate masks inside Hillsborough County schools this fall, Superintendent Addison Davis has announced face coverings will be required.

In a statement Tuesday on Twitter, Davis said he had listened to concerns and consulted with medical experts to find solutions that would help limit the spread of coronavirus.

"As a result, I have decided to require face coverings for our students, teachers and staff where social distancing is not possible for the start of the upcoming school year," Davis wrote.

The superintendent acknowledged there would be challenges but said he was confident obstacles would be met with "empathy and understanding" to make sure the district is creating a safe learning environment.

"As conditions improve in our community to such a degree that we can remove this requirement, we will do so," Davis said. "We can all agree on our desire to get back to normal, and while this step is a short-term solution, it will ultimately help us limit the spread of COVID and more quickly allow our community to return to business as usual."

On Monday, 10 Tampa Bay reported on how 164 physicians had signed a letter that was sent to Davis and the school board, asking district leaders to institute a mask requirement.

The district says it will provide three reusable face coverings for each student and staff member. In total, school leaders say they will have more than 760,000 face coverings on hand through purchases and donations.

On the same day, the state ordered all school districts to reopen schools for in-person learning at least five days per week this fall -- unless there are any health or executive orders issued to the contrary. 

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