mask mandates

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As Florida’s number of coronavirus cases started to rise this summer, local governments held marathon emergency meetings about mask mandates, taking hours of public comments and fielding passionate arguments on the issue. 

But only three cities in the local area made the decision to pass an ordinance. In the city limits of Pensacola, Gulf Breeze and Mary Esther, masks are required inside businesses. And businesses owners and city staff say there’s been little to no trouble. 

Screenshot by WUWF Public Media

The Okaloosa County School Board voted 4-1 to adopt a policy that strongly recommends masks for students and employees when social distancing is not possible.

The recommendation was made during a nearly seven-hour emergency meeting Wednesday night. 

The issue was brought up at last week’s workshop at the request of Superintendent Marcus Chambers who asked the board what they would like to see in a mask policy for the district. School begins in Okaloosa County on Monday. 

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

For the past month, Fort Walton Beach resident Taylor Kennedy has been on a mission to make sure people are wearing masks. 

She’s been a regular at Okaloosa County Commissioner meetings advocating for mask mandates, writing letters and sharing information to nearly 400 members in her community action Facebook group

Schools in Okaloosa County will start Aug. 31 after the county School Board unanimously approved the updated 2020-2021 school year calendar at the board meeting Monday night. 

Schools have been pushed back from Aug. 11 to Aug. 31 to allow teachers and staff to prepare for another school year during the pandemic.