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Lake County schools superintendent proposes ‘targeted’ mask mandate

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Treadway Elementary Principal Venessa King described a COVID-19 outbreak at her Leesburg school during a meeting of the Lake County School Board Thursday. Image: LCPS

The Lake County superintendent recommends a “targeted” masking rule only for schools with a COVID-19 test positivity rate above 5%.

The School Board chose not to vote on that Thursday and will hold another meeting.

Superintendent Diane Kornegay recommends that schools with positivity above 5% over two weeks have a mask requirement for at least 14 days.

As long as the governor’s ban on mandates was in effect, parents would be able to opt out. Otherwise, a medical exemption would be required.

In just three days this week, at least 523 Lake County students and 121 staff tested positive. Nearly 3,000 were quarantined.  

Six schools would be affected right away:

Based on data from Aug. 16 to 27, the district says seven schools would be in the “Red” zone and would have a masking requirement:

  • Treadway Elementary with a positivity rate at 8.27%,
  • Seminole Springs Elem at 6%,
  • Umatilla Elementary at 6.88%,
  • Eustis Middle at 6.83%,
  • Mount Dora Middle at 6.41%,
  • Umatilla Middle at 7.01%, and
  • Umatilla High at 5.70%.

Treadway Elementary Principal Venessa King says her school has 57 students with COVID-19, and it’s getting worse.

“I am that principal that’s begging,” she told the board in backing Kornegay’s proposal. “Somebody said it. I’m the one that’s doing it, because I have a lot of cases. I’ve had 19 staff members out on my campus. I’ve got kids on my campus whose parents have caught covid from them, and two of them have passed away.”

Board members heard from dozens against a mask mandate and even more in favor of one.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.