PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A new mask mandate at Pensacola State College was scheduled to start Monday, but the college has reversed course and will only “strongly recommend masks,” according to college president Ed Meadows.
Meadows cited Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new executive order, which prohibits schools with students in kindergarten through 12th grades from requiring masks, for the change in the college’s plans.
“Since our governor has signed an executive order making masks optional … we found it best to mirror that same practice,” Meadows said Monday, adding many of PSC’s students are high school dual enrollment, students. “In the educational community, it’s important that we try to be similar from one institution to another.”
When asked whether a mask mandate would help stop the spread of the virus at the college, Meadows replied, “according to the governor, no.”
“We are still strongly encouraging face coverings indoors,” he said. “There comes a point in society where individual citizens must take personal responsibility for their own health — just as they did pre-pandemic. We believe that approaching two years into the COVID situation that ample time has been given for people who are going to get the vaccine to get vaccinated … There comes a point in time when America has to come back to normalcy.”
Pensacola State College is encouraging students and faculty to get the vaccine.
Last week, the college had 11 students and three staff test positive for COVID-19 — the most since June.
New COVID-19 cases in Escambia County more than doubled last week when compared to the week before.
The University of West Florida says it will also strongly recommend masks but not require them.