Masked and Unmasked To Be Mixed In Classrooms.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — Students wearing masks will be seated next to students who are not wearing masks when the Palm Beach County School District starts the 2021-2022 year on Tuesday.
“Teachers will not be separating students,” said Palm Beach County School Spokeswoman Claudia Shea to BocaNewsNow.com.
Several school district officials confirmed that there is no protocol in place for students who aren’t wearing masks to be kept away from those who are. The decision means that classrooms may look like airplanes in the 1970s, when smoking rows were intermingled with non-smoking rows.
Interim Superintendent Michael Burke on Saturday announced a mandatory masking policy where students must wear masks unless a parent or guardian provides a signed letter to the school “opting out.” Students may not opt out of wearing a mask on a school bus.
Those familiar with the situation told BocaNewsNow.com say the school district does not believe it would be legal to separate — or, to use a controversial word, “segregate” — students based on mask use. Additionally, teachers must lock-in seating charts for purposes of contact tracing. If a student gets sick, the chart provides an official record of where he or she was sitting in relationship to other children.
Most seating charts will be completed before students arrive Tuesday morning and it becomes clear which parents insist on opting out their children from mask use. Bus seating charts are also in the process of being “locked.” Students will be told where to sit.
All Palm Beach County School District employees are required to wear facial coverings as part of the mask mandate. There is no opt-out option. The Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association, which lobbied hard last year to delay the start of school and provide virtual teaching options for teachers, has not yet issued a statement concerning the mask policy.
CTA President Justin Katz told BocaNewsNow.com that an official response will be made Monday, after he meets with school district officials.
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