UPDATE: The Palm Beach County School Board decided on Thursday, May 20, 2021 to make facial masks for students and staff optional through the rest of the school year.
Last night, May 19, 2021, the Palm Beach County School Board had their regular meeting and were met with over six hours of bashing by county parents angry of the board’s mask policy which ended at 11:30 PM, while the meeting itself ended at 1 AM. this morning. It is an anger we are seeing across the nation at many school board meetings as many parents feel school boards are abusing their emergency powers given them temporarily to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Board member Marcia Andrews was the only one who was positive comments from the parents speaking as she has been the only board member to reach out and speak with them outside of the board meetings.
The parents want it to be optional for students to wear masks through the end of the school year, instead of the current policy requiring masks from the time they get on the school bus in the morning to when they are dropped off later in the afternoon. We expect masks to be optional in the next school year scheduled to begin August 10, 2021.
Many of the speakers directed their anger at Superintendent Dr. Donald E. Fennoy II who was accused of being out of touch with what is going on in county schools. All the speakers spoke out against the county’s mask policy and an online petition has over 8,000 signatures. For the meeting, they separated parents into two rooms — one for the masked and one for the unmasked.
The online petition states, “The School District Palm Beach County is ignoring the Governor’s latest order 2020-244 and forcing children to wear masks regardless of that child’s overall well being. A blanket policy of masking children is not only ineffective but for many students like my own children can cause tremendous psychological harm and potentially long term negative health consequences. All we ask is that masks become an option for those who are still suffering from those negative effects of mask mandates. Currently, children must wear a facial covering and are told through verbal instruction from staff employees that it is required to cover their nose and mouth the entire school day. That includes when they are at their individual desk, outside at recess or doing anything other than eating during lunch.”
Many parents said they are researching other alternatives to the government-run schools like charter schools, private schools, and home schooling their children.