BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Masks will be mandatory for the start of school next week in Broward County.

That will be the case for the next few weeks, until they plan to re-evaluate.

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The decision was one Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright says they did not make lightly.

“It’s one they really had to discuss and understand what are the potential consequences for either decision that they were faced with,” she said.

The 8-1 decision came after comment from 48 public speakers, 350 written notes, and several hours of discussion.

Lori Alhadeff was the dissenting vote, because she wanted additional opt-out options.

“We took an oath to protect and serve these people, and today we voted to do just that,” said Board Chair, Dr. Rosalind Osgood. “We cannot bring people back to a school environment or school bus and not have masks be mandatory.”

State Representative Robin Bartleman, of Weston, agreed with the vote. She is a former assistant principal and teacher.

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“If one student in my classroom had a peanut allergy, every parent was notified not to bring peanuts into the classroom, because it was about protecting the life of that student. It was about the safety of that student,” she explained. “Yet here we are, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, and that same logic is in applying to the masks.”

“If you are 12 and under, you do not have access to the vaccine. You can’t get the vaccine. You don’t have a choice so what’s your line of defense? The only line of defense is a mask,” she continued. “And it’s not you wearing the mask, it’s other students and people around you wearing the mask.”

However, not everyone was happy about it. A group of parents protesting outside, yelling, “Our kids, our choice.”

The Broward school board had voted unanimously the other week for mandatory masks at the start of the year.

Then, the Governor came out with his executive order preventing those mandates.

“If you believe in the masking during school, you’re free to do it. No one saying you can’t do it,” he said while taking questions Tuesday in Surfside.

At a back to school event in Dania Beach, parents shared their thoughts.

“Parents have a choice whether their kids were masks or not,” said Landen Gee.

“At work, we have to wear masks, so I think it should be mandatory until everything settles down,” said Nicki Prior.

For the districts that go against the order, the governor threatened to withhold funding from the district or salaries from board members. Dr. Osgood and Dr. Cartwright received a letter from the Florida Department of Education shortly after the decision. It read in part:

“There is no room for error or leniency when it comes to ensuring compliance with policies that allow parents and guardians to make health and educational choices for their children.  Therefore, it is imperative that you work together as the Superintendent and the School Board to remedy this glaring non-compliance.”

The Broward School Board said they are working with their legal counsel to determine next steps.

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The opt-out provisions for the masks include those with medical conditions, those who have individual education plans, and students who qualify for section 504 accommodations.

Karli Barnett