St. Johns County schools will now require masks in classrooms, hallways

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The St. Johns County School District is planning to require that students wear masks in classrooms and hallways, according to a revised reopening plan released Friday.

In the new plan, students will now be required to wear masks in the classroom if they can’t social distance. In a previous plan, students were strongly encouraged to wear masks in classrooms and during transitions. Masks will also be required during transitions under the new draft plan.

The district had been under pressure from teachers and parents to require masks in the classroom after it released it’s original draft plan last week.

Masks will still be required on school buses under the new plan.

Parents will still have four options for students including school-based brick-and-mortar learning, school-based distance learning, St. Johns Virtual School and St. Johns County home education.

Parents now have two extra days to decide which path their student will take, with the deadline extended to July 17.

The district’s previous draft had provisions that would change the plan based on the community spread of COVID-19, but that’s not included in the plan that was released Friday after the Florida Department of Education issued an emergency order calling for all schools to open five days a week no matter how widespread the virus is in August.

The district will also no longer offer an A/B schedule for middle school and high school students.

School-based distance learning will only be available through the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year and St. Johns Virtual School requires a one-semester commitment, according to the district.

“My kids definitely miss being at school. I think they learn better in a school environment,” said parent Amanda Khoury.

Wayne Baker says his sons will be back in the classroom on August 10.

“My wife was working at home and I was working at home and then keeping everybody on task was a challenge,” Baker said.

Baker said his son’s are ready to see their friends.

“We have to get back to some sort of normal. We can’t be sheltered forever,” Baker said.

For brick-and-mortar learning, the district said that in the event of a directive from the local health department or a state executive order, a classroom or school closure may be required.

In a video posted to the district’s website, district officials said schools will prepare for opening July 20 through Aug. 3.

The first day of school will remain Aug. 10.

The district said it will release more documents and videos addressing frequently asked questions by July 17. The district will also address standardizing personal protective equipment and begin responding to specific questions next week.

The school board is expected to address the new plan during a regular meeting on July 14.

For more information, visit the district’s website.

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