The Pinellas County School Board adopted an emergency rule Tuesday that will require face coverings in schools until Nov. 9.
The rule gives examples of acceptable face coverings, which include disposable face masks, cloth face masks or other cloth apparel completely covering the mouth and nose. Masks must be made of a solid material, meaning no lace, mesh, crocheted or largely porous material; it also cannot have exhalation valves or vents.
According to a draft of the rule, the district will “maintain emergency supplies of disposable or other new face coverings so that no student, staff member or other person will be in a position where they will not have access to one.”
There will be exceptions to the face mask requirement, which include mask breaks for students and teachers, where they can remove their face covering while keeping social distancing measures in place.
Exceptions are also applicable to children under the age of 4, to those actively eating or drinking, during strenuous field activity and when playing wind instruments — to the extent allowed by schools. The district will require face shields as an accommodation to an individual who makes an ADA request.
Students not complying with the mask order will not face disciplinary action. Instead, the school will first try to re-educate the student on the importance of masks. If the student continues to intentionally disobey, they will most likely be reassigned to MyPCS Online.
For school employees, not complying with the mask requirement will result in disciplinary action.
Pinellas County has steadily been bringing down its positivity rate, reaching 3.5% on Saturday. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman made it a goal to keep the rate under 5%.
“The positivity rate is going down, and there’s a real excitement there, as long as we stay the course,” said Superintendent Mike Grego at the meeting. “We don’t relax, we have to stay the course.”
The district is also delivering about 34,000 acrylic sneeze guards to schools as another protective measure as they prepare for the start of school.