When the topic was brought up, parents during public comment were passionate, with a majority in support of the mask mandate.By Casey Albritton

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The Manatee County School Board meeting passed a mask mandate for students and teachers, but with an option to opt-out. The consideration came with a lot of reaction from parents in the district.

Some parents are saying it should be their decision on whether or not their students wear a mask to school, and others say children need to wear maks more than ever because of more than 129 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since last Tuesday.

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At the school board meeting on Monday, one parent came to the podium and said “What we are talking about, it’s pointless. Those masks kids are going to opt in to wear, they aren’t going to do anything, they aren’t going to stop the virus. They are just making people feel better.”

Another parent called in over the phone and said “Parent choice is not enough to protect our children and teachers from getting sick.”

A heated debate once again filled the Manatee County Board of Education meeting, all about masks.

School board member, Charlie Kennedy, says “To implement a mask mandate with an opt out provision for all students and employees on campus through August 25, 2021.”

That motion was passed by board members three to two this morning, allowing superintendent, Cynthia Saunders to implement a temporary mask mandate. During the meeting, board members mentioned that parents maybe be able to opt out with a note.

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Mary Foreman, school board member, says “We need to make the opt out work, and the way to do that depends on the schools, principals and teachers to be the enforcers of that.”

When the topic was brought up, parents during public comment were passionate, with a majority in support of the mask mandate.

One parent at the meeting said “Mask mandates for these children are absolutely not the way. If parents are scared, their children can stay home or they can choose to get an N-95 mask for those children.”

Another parent said “Please pass this mask mandate and keep it in place until the community’s COVID-19 cases are under control and our hospitals are no longer overwhelmed. I am so tired with feeling like I am playing Russian Roulette with my kid’s lives every time I drop them off for school.”

Hillsborough County Schools also will be having an emergency meeting on Wednesday after releasing that 5,699 students are in quarantine or isolation because of COVID-19. In Manatee County, 129 students and 50 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, something Foreman says is scary to hear.

“This is a different virus guys…this is way more contagious and it’s spreading,” said Foreman.

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Hillsborough County School’s emergency meeting will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m.