As students and teachers prepare to go back to school in Martin County on Tuesday, the county’s ordinance requiring all residents to wear face masks where social distancing isn’t possible has expired.
The mandate was lifted over the weekend and commissioners decided not to renew it.
Instead, an emergency order is now in place that strongly recommends wearing a facial covering but doesn’t require it. That means people will no longer face citations if they don’t abide by the rule.
The move to not renew the mask mandate comes as numbers show what appears to be a downward trend in the number of COVID-19 infections within the county.
According to data from the Florida Department of Health, during the 30-day period in which the mask ordinance was in place, Martin County saw a decrease in the positivity rate as well as a decrease in the number of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus.
Even though the county-wide mask ordinance has expired, it will not impact students and staff who return to the classroom on Tuesday.
The district will follow its own set of guidelines which require all students and staff to wear a mask anytime they enter the building, ride a school bus, or when social distancing isn’t possible.
There is some concern that a lift in the mask requirement when it comes to the general public could jeopardize the progress made over the past month, especially with flu season right around the corner.
Commissioners are hopeful people will continue to willingly wear a mask to help protect themselves and the community, even if it isn’t required.
The first day of school for kids in Martin County is Tuesday, August 11.