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These Palm Beach County parents say they won't opt out of the school district's mask mandate

Photo of a young girl holding a vaccine card
Courtesy of Erin M. Franklin
Erin M. Franklin's daughter holding a vaccine card. Franklin is a registered nurse in Palm Beach County.

After a judge's ruling last Friday, parents in the School District of Palm Beach County can opt out of having their child wear a face mask in school. The district encourages mask use for staff but it isn’t mandatory.

Even with that news, the decline in COVID-19 numbers and availability of vaccines for younger children, some parents aren't budging. Jennith Di Federico, is a health professional in Palm Beach County and has three boys: ages 10, 14, and 16.

She said her kids will continue wearing masks.

“My older two, the 14 and 16, wear their masks everywhere. I don’t even have to tell them cause, like, there’s moments where I don’t have my mask and they always wear their mask,” said Di Federico. “My 10-year-old, since he’s played sports and everything, he kinda takes his mask off from time to time but, for the most part, if we’re in like large crowds or going places that do have a lot of people, then he wears his mask. I’m keeping them wearing a mask just to keep other people protected, as well as themselves.”

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Di Federico’s children attend a charter school and she says their mask policy is still in place for students and staff. But Di Federico says she doesn’t feel like she needs to impose the mask on everyone. She believes it’s a personal choice.

“So if parents don’t want their kids to wear them, they don’t have to, but I don't feel like it should be something where people are getting judged based on it," she said.

Erin M. Franklin is a registered nurse in Wellington and says she wanted more time as vaccine accessibility for children improves across the state.

“I just wish the school district would have considered keeping the mandate through December, at least, so the kids who were just approved to get their vaccinations have time to be fully vaccinated and protected,” Franklin said.

Her daughter got her first dose this week and won’t be fully vaccinated until mid-December.

“At least allow the parents who want to do the vaccine have time to get their kiddos protected,” Franklin said.

The School District is also working with the Health Care District to make Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines available for students ages 5 through 11.

Wilkine Brutus is the Palm Beach County Reporter for WLRN. The award-winning journalist produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs. Contact Wilkine at wbrutus@wlrnnews.org
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