PHOTOS: Despite parents’ outcry, Pinellas County school board votes no on stricter mask mandate

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Parents and teachers calling for the Pinellas County School board to defy Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates gathered at the district's administration building in Largo Tuesday morning.

As expected, anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters were also in attendance. Members of the anti-vaccine group Moms for Freedom, as well as Trump supporters flashing white power signs were among the counter protesters.

But despite demands from concerned parents, and over 3,000 students and faculty currently in quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19, the board voted 4-3 to not hold an emergency session on whether or not to impose a stricter 60-day mask mandate.

This means, face masks will remain optional in Pinellas County classrooms.

So far, Sarasota, Leon, Alachua, Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Hillsborough school districts have enacted stricter mask requirements in spite of DeSantis' executive order.

The heated debate of masks in schools comes as multiple school board vacancies will be up for grabs in 2022. As of now, a handful of  anti-vaxx and QAnon-adjacent candidates have already filed to run in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.— Colin Wolf

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08/24/2021 | Photos by Dave Decker