Parents and Guardians,
Our teachers, administrators, and support professionals are excited to welcome students back for the 2021-22 school year. I understand many of our parents remain concerned as COVID-19 continues to spread in our community, but please know that district leaders have been working tirelessly to ensure campuses are prepared to provide proper health and safety protocols when students and staff return.
On Friday, the Florida Department of Health adopted a new Emergency Rule, 64DER-21-12, which states “Students may wear masks or facial coverings as a mitigation measure, however, the school must allow for a parent or legal guardian to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask.”
With that said, I am announcing today that Hillsborough County Public Schools will require face coverings but will allow parents or guardians to opt their child out from wearing a face covering or mask. This requirement will continue until at least September 3rd. We will continue to work with our health partners at TGH/USF Health to monitor conditions in our community at that time to make further decisions.
While the outcome may be the same whether we make face coverings optional or required with an opt-out, we believe this decision continues to illustrate that Hillsborough County Public Schools takes public safety seriously. We want to ensure we are doing all we can to help community wide efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. By taking this position today, we hope this provides our families time over the weekend to talk with their children before the start of school on Tuesday, August 10.
Parents will be expected to have conversations with their children so that students will follow through with their parents’ expectations regarding wearing masks while at school.
If you wish to opt-out your child, please fill out the HCPS Mask Opt Out Form here - web.hillsboroughschools.org/maskoptout. The only parents who should fill out the form are those who do not want their child to wear a mask. Parents must fill out a form for each child.
We are excited for the new school year and we thank you for trusting Hillsborough County Public Schools with your child’s education.
Addison G. Davis
Superintendent of Schools