On Tuesday, the Pinellas County School board voted to not hold an emergency meeting to consider a district-wide mask mandate.By Casey Albritton

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The mask debate heats up in Pinellas County. On Tuesday, the Pinellas County School board voted to not hold an emergency meeting to consider a district-wide mask mandate.

During public comment at the meeting, parents were very passionate.

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“I absolutely disagree with you guys calling another meeting to enforce masks, masking our children and preventing them from breathing oxygen,” said one parent.

“How do we keep our children safe? How do we keep our communities safe? So I do feel strongly that you do need to have this meeting. You need to talk to doctors, experts, epidemiologists,” said another parent.

During the Pinellas County School Board meeting on Tuesday, member, Caprice Edmond, made a motion to hold an emergency meeting to consider a mask mandate for students and staff, and after that motion was made six long hours of public comment started.

“Asking the board to vote on something that breaks the law is inciting the board members to break the law,” said one parent during public comment.

“There have been other counties that have been brave enough to have this meeting before their school year started and they have taken action,” said another parent.

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Many parents said holding a meeting and voting on a possible mask mandate goes against the governor’s executive order, which states parents must be able to opt their children out of a district-wide mask mandate.

“Do you not think that Governor DeSantis care about our children? We care about our children. It’s not your job to put coverings over our children’s face,” said said one parent.

Others argued wearing a mask to fight the pandemic takes priority.

“We’re talking about kids getting sick. We are talking about kids missing school. We’re talking about community members, we’re talking about people with auto-immune disorders, like myself. We’re talking about people with cancer,” said another parent.

The proposed mandate would have lasted 60 days and would allow for a medical opt-out, if passed. After hours of debate, board members voted four to three to not hold an emergency meeting to consider that mask mandate but opinions were still passionate on both sides.

Eileen Long, school board member, says “If boards will choose to violate one law, what is it to stop them from violating others?”

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Laura Hine, school board member, says “Conditions change. We talked about when conditions change, we need to be able to change, and we need to be nimble.”