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Orange County School Board adopts mask mandate as COVID cases spike; Apopka schools up to 249 cases


From Staff Reports

After a marathon meeting that lasted just under four hours, the Orange County Public School (OCPS) Board will mandate masks in its schools for 60 days. The new policy will go into effect Monday, August 30th. The only opt-out is for a medical condition and requires a note from a doctor.

Melissa Byrd was in passionate support of the new mandate.

"We have an obligation to provide the children in this community an education and a safe school," said Byrd, the District 7 OCPS Board Member representing Apopka. "We can't provide that education to them when they get quarantined or sick, which is what's happening."

District 7 OCPS Board Member Melissa Byrd

Byrd said that the effects of COVID in her district includes an entire kindergarten class that was sent home, and another school with 116 students in quarantine.

"That's just infuriating," she said. "All of those kids are not getting an education that we're supposed to be providing."

Byrd also pointed out that studies on masking have proven it is effective in limiting the spread of COVID, including one in Georgia that showed that schools with mask mandates had 37% less instances of COVID.

"I am an advocate for children," Byrd said. "I have been in education my entire life. It does not make me happy to see these babies with masks on their faces. It does not make me happy to see my own children go to school with masks on their faces. I don't want to see any of this. I want to get back to normal. But it's not going to get back to normal until we start taking the measures that we need to take to get this virus down to where it's manageable, and our hospitals aren't flooded, and our ICU's aren't overflowing."

And while she is sensitive to the problems masks can create for students, she foresees a far more dire result if masking remains optional.

"All the other issues masks may create - anxiety, speech delays, or emotional stress... all of them can be treated... but death from COVID cannot be treated."

According to the Orange County Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard, Monday was the highest number of COVID cases ever reported in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the dashboard, there were 419 new cases including 382 new cases in students, and 37 in adults. It also shows an additional 104 cases reported as of 2 p.m. Tuesday.

In Apopka, there are 249 positive cases of COVID reported. 217 are students, and 32 are employees. There are also 334 students, and four employees in quarantine.

In Orange County, there are 2,343 positive cases of COVID reported. 1,810 of those are students, 320 are employees, and 13 are vendors or visitors. There are also 1,798 in quarantine - 1,790 students, and eight employees.

COVID statistics for Apopka Schools

Apopka Elementary: 21 confirmed cases - 1 employee, 20 students, and 6 in quarantine (4 students, and 2 employees)

Dream Lake Elementary: 13 confirmed cases - 3 employee, 10 students, and 4 students in quarantine

Lakeville Elementary: 7 confirmed cases - 1 employee, 6 students, and 7 students in quarantine

Lovell Elementary: 8 confirmed cases - 2 employees, 6 students

Phillis Wheatley Elementary: 3 confirmed cases - 3 students

Rock Springs Elementary: 13 confirmed cases - 1 employee, 12 students

Wolf Lake Elementary: 21 confirmed cases - 2 employees, 19 students and 66 students in quarantine

Apopka Memorial Middle: 21 confirmed cases - 3 employees, 18 students

Piedmont Lakes Middle: 27 confirmed cases - 3 employees, 24 students and 49 students in quarantine

Wolf Lake Middle: 21 confirmed cases - 7 employees, 14 students and 121 students in quarantine

Apopka High: 66 confirmed cases - 7 employees, 59 students and 85 students in quarantine

Wekiva High: 28 confirmed cases - 2 employees, 26 students


The COVID Dashboard for Orange County Public Schools.

The COVID Dashboard for Apopka schools.


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