Masks now optional for some Bay Area summer school students, teachers say it’s a quick turnaround

On Friday, the Hillsborough County School District announced that beginning Monday, masks would be optional in schools, which means students enrolling in summer school classes will not have to wear a mask, but not all teachers are on board. 

"As we go into summer school and some summer programs, this is sort of a late-ish moment to make the call in terms of no masks or masks being fully optional," said Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, the executive director with the Hillsborough County Teacher’s Association. 

While the district is encouraging those who are eligible to get vaccinated, not all students are old enough to get the shot.

"The only thing I would potentially think teachers would have a concern with is that younger children still can’t get vaccinated. Even though teachers can get vaccinated, there may still be some with underlying health issues that do have concerns," said Baxter-Jenkins. 

This comes as the CDC is focused on getting teens vaccinated. They say they’ve seen a small but concerning increase in hospitalizations of young people ages 12 to 17.

While the district is confident in their changes, they added that they plan to keep in close communication with local health officials.

"I would say, I think it’s incumbent on the school district to keep an eye on how things go," said Baxter-Jenkins. 

The Pinellas County School District also voted to make masks optional for the fall semester. Those changes will go into effect starting on Wednesday.

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