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Manatee County Schools will not issue mask mandate ahead of start of school year

The district discussed a rule adopted by the Florida DOE, which allows students to transfer if they experience to "COVID-19 harassment," such as wearing masks.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — One day before Manatee County Schools welcomes back students to the classroom, the district's school board called a special meeting regarding recent recommendations from the county's health department and the Florida Department of Education. 

During the meeting, school board members said they would not issue a mask mandate before the start of the school year. 

The school board met Monday morning at the Manatee County School District headquarters at 215 Manatee Avenue West in Bradenton, with public comment allowed toward the end.

On Friday, the Florida Department of Education approved a proposal that would allow families to use Hope Scholarship vouchers to transfer their kids out of schools that place rules on mask-wearing or other coronavirus policies that cause a child to experience harassment. 

This allows parents to take their children out of public school and place them in another school, including either a private school or a school in a different district. Parents are allowed to do this if their child is being "harassed" or faces "discrimination" from the school's COVID-19 policies, which includes face mask mandates.

The Hope Scholarship in Florida allows K-12 students who have been "bullied, harassed, assaulted, or threatened" to transfer to another public school or enroll in an "approved private school."

RELATED: Florida DOE passes emergency rule allowing children to transfer schools due to 'COVID-19 harassment'

The new rule falls in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order banning schools from issuing mask mandates for students. 

However, despite that order, several school districts in Florida have defied it, risking the potential of losing school funding. 

One such district going against the governor's order is Hillsborough County Schools — sort of. They implemented a type of mask mandate for students that parents have the option to opt-out their students. Due to this choice for parents, Superintendent Addison Davis says the school district won't risk losing any funding. 

RELATED: Hillsborough County Schools leaders institute mask mandate — kind of

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