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Adkins recommends district move to voluntary masks beginning July 1

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | May 13, 2021

Although masks will remain mandated through June 30, School District of Lee County Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said they will make it voluntary when students return in the fall.

Adkins said this week that he feels it is time to change the course for the mask mandate starting July 1 because of the recommendations from Commissioner Richard Corcoran, as well as the state surgeon general.

“I am going to be moving forward making a recommendation next year as it relates to voluntary masking,” he said. “I am making it at this time (because) I do believe it is important for families to make decisions about next year now. It’s my recommendation at this point of how we will be opening up schools next year.”

The mask mandate, will remain until June 30 due to a memorandum of understanding with the teacher associations, as well as the many end-of-year activities.

“We are coming up on graduations. We are in the middle of testing. For health and safety reasons we should stay the course,” Adkins said.

In addition, a big part of the decision in staying on the current course has to do with the district entering into a memorandum of understanding with TALC and SPALC. Adkins said the memorandum of understanding is a binding matter, an agreement between the board and the associations.

“When you have a contract with the teacher’s union, the working conditions are part of that and are bargained,” he explained.

Board Attorney Kathy Dupuy-Bruno said they negotiated the agreement, so that teachers would come back to work at the height of the pandemic.

If the district does see changes with the progress as it relates to the pandemic, such as an increase in positivity or change in recommendations, any interim superintendent will have time to make a change prior to the beginning of next year.