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Tampa Bay School Districts Respond To Governor DeSantis' Executive Order

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - On Tuesday, school districts in the area made announcements about whether students will be required to wear masks through the rest of the school year.

School children wear masks during COVID-19 pandemic A students adjusts her facemask at St. Joseph Catholic School in La Puente, California on November 16, 2020, where pre-kindergarten to Second Grade students in need of special services returned to the classroom today for in-person instruction. - The campus is the second Catholic school in Los Angeles County to receive a waiver approval to reopen as the coronavirus pandemic rages on. The US surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases Sunday, adding one million new cases in less than a week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

This comes one day after Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order suspending all COVID-19 restrictions across the state.

A majority of the districts in the Bay Area have decided to continue requiring masks through the end of the school year, regardless of the executive order. Some parents say they think masks in schools are distracting, while others say they think masks are helping keep children safe.

Ursula Cochran, a Pinellas County Schools parent says "I think it's ridiculous. I think it's absurd."

Cynthia Smith, another Pinellas County Schools parent, says "I thought that it was amazing. I loved it."

Parents are divided about COVID-19 precautions in the classroom.

On Monday, Governor DeSantis signed an executive order suspending all COVID-19 restrictions, but according to the Florida Department of Education, the order doesn't apply to school districts.

"I'm very, very concerned. I hope the school board keeps the masks, I hope they keep the masks into next year," said Cochran.

Now individual districts are having to make a difficult decision. "I can't imagine being a child and sitting there for seven plus hours [in a mask], ever since this started," said Smith.

Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Polk County Public Schools have all decided to require masks through the end of the 2020-'21 school year.

"Good. Thank God. Thank God they are listening to the experts and doing what is right instead of playing politics," said Cochran.

On Tuesday, Pinellas County Schools also made an announcement that masks will not be required for the 2021-'22 school year.

"I don't think it's really going to affect them because they are children," said Smith. She believes the masks are distracting and making it difficult for children to learn. "My daughter, she has asthma off and on, so she gets sick, so it's hard for her to breathe."

On the other hand, Cochran says children need to wear masks to protect those who are high risk. "People try to say it's freedom, freedom. No, it's not freedom, it's your responsibility."

The Manatee County School district also made an announcement saying masks will be required for students and staff until further notice.

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