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The Alachua County Public Schools mask mandate now runs through early December

The Alachua County School Board voted 3-2 on Tuesday to extend the mask mandate for students through Dec. 6.

On Dec. 7, parents will be allowed to opt-out students from wearing masks. The ruling also established that following winter break, masks will be optional for students.

Leanetta McNealy, chair of the board and chair of District 4, voted to extend the mandate. McNealy also expressed concern about the length of the mandate, believing it to not be long enough.

"I truly, truly, truly, believe that the compromise we have here is fine," McNealy said. "But it's not enough."

McNealy also expressed concern over the lack of substitute teachers she believes will be needed following the return from winter break.

Mildred Russel, chair of District 2, voted to end the mandate. Russell said she wanted to hear from more medical experts before voting on the issue.

"If we're going to have to make these decisions for the parents and for the children," Russell said, "we need to hear some other points of view to make a really balanced, informed decision."

The board is still awaiting a legal ruling from a state court that could throw out the mandate before the proposed ending.

Matthew is a Digital Producer and Reporter for WUFT. His work focuses on sports and education, but he ventures out into other areas as well. In the spring of 2021 and summer of 2022, Matthew worked for ESPN Gainesville where he provided hourly sports updates and wrote for the website. In 2022, Matthew began contributing to The Point Podcast and providing local hourly news updates on All Things Considered. He may be reached by emailing bellmatthew@ufl.edu.