Aug 17, 2021 - COVID
Where Tampa Bay's schools stand on COVID
Illustration of a school bus wearing a mask.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Students and staff at Manatee County public schools are now required to wear masks — with an opt-out option, should parents choose.

  • Debate at the Manatee County School Board's emergency meeting Monday went on for more than three hours.
  • The mandate will go through Aug. 25 and most likely be extended at the next school board meeting.

Why it matters: Last week — Manatee’s first of the school year — saw 177 students and employees test positive for COVID-19.

  • Last year’s first week only saw 17 cases.

Zoom out: In Hillsborough County, the school board will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to address its spike in cases.

  • As of yesterday, 5,599 students and 316 employees are in quarantine or isolation for either testing positive or a close contact, per WFLA.

Meanwhile: Manatee County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge is being treated at Blake Medical Center with a breakthrough COVID case, the Bradenton Herald reports.

  • Van Ostenbridge voted to repeal mandatory coronavirus safety measures in county buildings and has denounced guidance from public health officials.
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