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Sarasota County Schools' mask mandate enforcement takes effect

Students risk being sent home if they refuse to wear a mask.

SARASOTA, Fla. — Sarasota County school officials have started enforcing the district's mask policy. The policy began on Aug. 23, but the district allowed one week for parents to submit exemption forms and for more awareness to encourage voluntary compliance. 

Henceforth, however, teachers and school administrators can now ask students to put on a mask. They would also call a parent of any student who disobeys the instruction. If they continue to refuse to wear a mask, the student would be sent home. 

A school district spokesperson however said most of the students are complying and putting on their masks as they come into school and while in their classrooms.

"We are so proud of our students and the high level of compliance with the temporary emergency face mask policy we've seen across the district so far," said Kelsey Whealy with the Sarasota County School District.

RELATED: Sarasota School District approves 90-day mask mandate

At least one family Monday morning stood in front of a school with their signs voicing their views against the temporary mask policy. Some parents in social media posts have said they are encouraging their kids not to follow the rules. 

The group Moms for Liberty has also circulated messages urging parents to instruct their children on how to circumvent the rules under the guise of "civil disobedience." Several other parents said they were pleased with the policy.

"I think protecting our children is what we need to focus our minds and our positivity. To me, it's not political, but it's turned that way, it's public health and it's for the safety of everyone," said Erika Wise Borland, a Sarasota mom.

"It's our jobs as a community to make sure that this virus stops spreading and it's so important that our future, these children, continue to study in class, in person," Borland said.

The school district is still tallying up the total number of medical exemptions.

The emergency face mask policy will last for 90 days, expiring around the end of November. The school board plans to suspend the policy if the county's Covid-19 positivity rate falls below 8% for 3 consecutive days. 

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