Masks likely optional in Pasco schools next year

The Pasco County School District has set an end date for their COVID-19 mask mandate. The order requiring students, staff, and visitors to wear face-coverings will go away at the end of the day on May 28 – two days after the end of school.

Wednesday, May 26, is the last day for students, while May 28 is the last day for teachers. That means the mask requirement "will effectively remain in place through the end of the 2020-2021 school year," schools spokesperson Stephen Hegarty noted.

Masks will become optional after that. The first affected events will be high school graduations happening after May 28; the district will still encourage graduates and guests to bring masks because of the crowd size, though most are outside.

Masks will be optional for the Extended School Year summer school program, which starts Monday, June 7.  

"Though it is impossible to predict what course the pandemic will take in the coming months, Pasco County Schools is fully expecting the ‘masks optional’ approach to carry over into the 2021-2022 school year," Stephen Hegarty offered.

With more Floridians getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the state last month eased mask rules and the governor issued an executive order effectively ending any local community mask mandates, though it did not apply to schools.