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Pasco school district to require masks in all buildings for now

The decision does not immediately affect the district's back-to-school plan.
Pasco County schools required visitors to wear masks when clearing lockers in May. On June 23, they mandated masks for anyone coming to district schools or work sites who cannot maintain social distancing.
Pasco County schools required visitors to wear masks when clearing lockers in May. On June 23, they mandated masks for anyone coming to district schools or work sites who cannot maintain social distancing. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Published Jun. 23, 2020
Updated Jun. 23, 2020

Planning to visit a Pasco County public school or work site?

You better bring a mask.

Shortly after the Pasco County Commission issued an order mandating face coverings for anyone going to indoor places of business, the school district followed suit for its own properties.

Employees and visitors who cannot maintain adequate social distance from others will be required to wear a mask or shield, effective immediately and until further notice.

The decision does not impact the youngsters attending the district’s PLACE childcare program, district spokesman Steve Hegarty said.

“They are using the cohort strategy,” Hegarty said, referring to a model that places children in small groups apart from all others in the program. “We’re going to continue doing that.”

PLACE employees already were using masks.

Student-athletes who begin training in the coming weeks will not be asked to wear masks when participating in sports activity. They might have to wear them, though, if on a bus or inside a building and not able to keep adequate social distancing.

The action also does not affect the district’s plan for reopening in August, Hegarty said.

Related: Pasco’s school reopening plan: three options for parents

That plan “expects” students to wear masks on buses and “encourages” them in school, but stops short of a mandate. Some parents have pressed for a mask requirement, while others have argued against such an action.

Many said the issue could drive their decision of whether to send their children back to campus. They’ve been asked to indicate their preference by July 1.

Hegarty said the issue remains under discussion. The School Board plans a workshop on reopening for June 30.

“We’re still answering questions,” he said. “If circumstances change, we will revisit that.”

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